Thursday, November 29, 2012

Five Things to Do Before Winter Break

You still have a lot of school days between now and winter break. You want to make absolutely sure that you use them productively. I have listed five activities that should help. Several of these activities relate to getting grant money. All of them relate to being productive at a time when productivity can go out the window if you don’t plan carefully.

Between now and winter break, you may want to consider one or more these activities:
1) Have a read-a-thon. If you are going to do an early release, or if you just have a day or two when students are likely to be very antsy and not want to concentrate on school work, having a read-a-thon can help you calm students and get them to focus on a productive activity. I found classroom read-a-thons very productive as a teacher and school-wide read-a-thons productive as a principal.

2) Make sure you do mid-year testing if your semester ends anywhere close to winter break. Students should have made measurable gains in every program, and you especially need to measure those gains in the programs you funded with grant money. By measuring growth at mid-year, you can make adjustments to your program if the gains are inadequate or enhance your program even more if you find you’re heading in the right direction. Either way, you have to measure the growth your students have made during the first semester to fine tune your program for the second semester.

3) If your district will allow it, sponsor a food drive in your classroom or building. The holiday season is a great time for most families. It is the hardest of times for others. This gives you an opportunity to involve your students and teach them to give to those less fortunate than themselves. We need to teach students more than math and reading.

4) Write a grant or two. You only have about six weeks left to submit a grant that will benefit students during the second semester. If you write a couple of grants now (especially if they are foundation or corporate grants), you should get your money soon enough to impact your students during the second semester. Go past winter break and it becomes harder to get money that will be impactful in the second semester.

5) Form a grant committee, find a grant-writing partner, or hire a grant writer. If you determine that your campus or district needs grant money, and you don’t have a full-time grant writer (which most districts don’t), form a plan to write grants during the second semester. Yes, I know this will not help your students during the spring semester, but at least with this activity out of the way, you can make progress writing grants for summer school and for the fall semester. Planning now can pay great dividends in the future.

There you have it; five activities that will help you and your students have a better holiday season and get more done than you thought possible. Yes, the time between now and winter break can be hectic, but you can make it more calm and more productive if you plan properly.

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