Bringing holiday activities into the classroom is something we look forward to every year. We enjoy celebrating as much as any teacher, but just because it’s “the most wonderful time of the year” doesn’t mean that “higher-order” assignments and critical thinking activities can be left out to dry!
To help you balance the festivities and holiday activities with something a bit more…how should we say it, substantial…we came up with a writing assignment—one that will help you and your students start the New Year off right.
We came up with this idea after stumbling on a letter Frank Trujillo wrote to his students. Summarizing it here wouldn’t do it justice, so take a few minutes and read it on your own.
Now that you’ve read Trujullo’s letter, we’ll tell you about the assignment:
Most of us spend a great deal of time setting goals for our students and telling them what we expect of them—but when was the last time you had them reflect on their own goals and tell you what they expect of you? What better time to do this than for the New Year?
Here are more specifics:
Have your students write or type an informal letter to you. Emphasize that the content will not be evaluated for spelling or punctuation. In it they should answer the following questions as honestly and constructively as possible:
- How is this class/this school year going so far for you? Why?
- What activities or classroom procedures worked best in 2012 to help you learn?
- What activities or classroom procedures didn’t work so well in 2012? What could we do to make 2013 better?
- How can I be more helpful to you in the New Year?
Now it’s your turn to respond. If you take Trujillo’s approach, you’ll only have to write one letter to the entire class. If you can manage it, though, this exercise will have more impact if you respond to each letter individually and treat is as an ongoing conversation between you and the student.