5 Simple Ideas to Start the New Year RIGHT in Your Classroom!


Happy New Year!  I always like to start the new year with renewed energy and a positive outlook.  I am excited to get back into the classroom with my sweet student - I've missed them!  The school year is nearly half-way over (already??!) and I want to continue pushing my students to learn and grow to be their best!  I want to maintain a positive and safe classroom environment - the new year is a perfect time for a review of procedures and to introduce some new ideas!

Here are 5 things I plan to do to start the year off right:

1. It's the FIRST Day!  You've been on break for a bit now, right?  So guess what? Your students (and YOU) are a bit out of the school routine.  While it's not actually the first day of school, try incorporating some fun activities to review procedures and expectations.  At the beginning of the year, I show a meme slideshow to go over procedures in my classroom.  My students love it and the best part?  They remember the procedures! Search the internet for a couple of silly memes that will help you review your procedures.


2. Check IN! Now that I've had a nice relaxing break away from the classroom, I realize that I miss my students.  The first week back, I will make a point to have a personal conversation with each of student to check in with them about their break and get a feel for how they are doing. Unfortunately, some of my students likely did not have a fun and relaxing break.  I want to welcome them back into the safe and structured classroom environment. I want to work to rebuild and maintain a connection with each student for the rest of the year.  I keep an actual checklist so that I can write down the date we chatted and what we talked about.  Showing that you really care about someone takes just a little bit of time but has huge and lasting benefits.

3. Be POSITIVE!  I plan on starting the new year with a fresh, positive attitude.  I will reward good behavior A LOT the first weeks back.  I will embrace getting my students to "clip up" the behavior chart, writing positive notes to parents, and giving out tickets to the treasure box - my treasure box is filled with fun new treasures (I cleaned out my own children's old toys to make way for new ones over the holiday break).  Negative behaviors will be addressed quietly and privately with students with gentle reminders in the classroom and a conversation at recess.



4. Build COMMUNITY!  Make it a fresh start and incorporate community and class-building activities. If you expect students to work together collaboratively you MUST teach them and show them how in fun ways. I do this by incorporating a morning meeting with each of my groups.  We get to know each other by sharing and learn to work together by playing  games. The games can be quick and simple like "Telephone" or "Two Truths and a Lie". We also discuss classroom issues and brainstorm ways to resolve them.  I dedicate at most ten minutes every day for our morning meeting and usually add a longer fifteen minute session once a week or as needed. If the weather is nice, take it outside for a breath of fresh air! 


5. REFLECT!  Make the new year a great one by incorporating student reflections and goals.  I have my students reflect on their learning every Friday by writing about 3 things they learned during the week.  They then write about whether it was easy or challenging for them and why. My students keep a Learning Reflections Journal with their data and goal-setting notebooks.  Teaching and modeling to students how to reflect on what and how they are learning is such a powerful way for students to really think about their thinking.  It also gives them opportunities to look back and set meaningful goals for themselves as they move forward in their learning.  You can easily this by students writing each week in a new or existing journal.  To make it even easier, you can check out my Weekly Learning Reflection Forms in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here or click on the image below!



I hope you can use some of these ideas in your classroom in the upcoming weeks!  
What will you do to start the New Year off right?
Happy New Year!

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Celebrate Christmas with a Math Project!



The week before winter break is always an exciting time in the classroom and it can be a challenge to keep students on task and learning!  Students seem even more energetic than usual and less focused on learning.  I'm always looking for fun and meaningful ways to integrate the holidays into my classroom to keep my 5th graders focused on academics.   My 12 Days of Christmas Math Project is challenging, yet fun, and allows students to practice problem-solving skills by calculating the cost of the 12 Days of Christmas.

I start by having my students read the lyrics to the "12 Days of Christmas"(I like to play the song as they read along). I have my 5th graders highlight the gifts for each of the 12 days of Christmas as they read. Next, I give them the 12 Days of Christmas Task Page and review the three tasks they are required to complete. 

Task 1: Calculate the cost of each gift
Task 2: Calculate the total cost of all gifts given on each day
Task 3: Use the calculations to answer questions 


After we review the tasks, I give my students the 12 Days of Christmas price list.  There are two price lists options to choose from - whole numbers or decimals to the tenths place.  I differentiate this activity by giving each student the price list that suits their needs best.  You may also choose to have students work with partners or in cooperative groups to complete the project.

Students use the recording pages to calculate all of the costs.  While they are working, I like to project a Yule Log video on the board and play holiday music in the background.


Answer keys are also included.  If you would like to share this activity with your students, you can find it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here!

Happy Holidays!
Live, laugh, love to learn,
Debbie
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