Don’t Let the Learning Stop: How to keep students engaged over extended breaks
Throughout the school year, extended breaks provide both teachers and students the opportunity to give their mind a chance to reboot. However, learning opportunities do not have to stop while we take a break from the classroom to devote time to family, friends, and relaxation. Without opportunities for active learning during these extended breaks, some loss of knowledge is inevitable. Similar to what has been termed the “summer slide”, this phenomenon also occurs during shorter breaks throughout the course of the school year.
There are many opportunities available to avoid this “slide”; teachers can help students engage in learning in fun ways that do not feel like “learning” at all. For my students, this means blogging. Thanks to the availability of technology and platforms like Kidblog, students can stay connected, while still working on building skills over the break.
From “assignment” to “activity”
So, what turns a blog post from “an assignment by the teacher” over break to a fun student activity? It’s all about the content. For example, students may be asked to write a blog surrounding their time over break. Perhaps they describe what activities they participated in; writing a review of a book or movie they experienced, sharing how they spent time with friends or family, or even posting a new recipe they learned over break. These open-ended prompts enable students to work on their writing and literacy skills in a low-key and fun way. Additionally, it gives teachers the chance to stay connected with their students and provide any necessary feedback.
For more reflection, students may be given prompts which ask them to take a look back at some of the work that they have done prior to the break. They can focus on a few specific skills they have gained as well as their strengths or weaknesses throughout the year. Using blogging as a journal, they may then write a personal blog to themselves addressing these areas. The blog can be shared with the teacher as a reflection, to explain how they perceive their progress in class and offer some ideas for personal goals or describe areas where improvement can be made. This prompt can be a great way for students to prepare for the year ahead of them.
It’s about staying connected
Blogging enables the students and teachers to communicate through a comfortable medium. It gives students an opportunity to write, read, and practice any critical skills they have learned leading up to the break as well as some reflective writing. Students are encouraged to be creative while they are engaged in the practice of reflection, setting them up for future growth and helping you as the teacher develop a better understanding of student needs.