The holidays can be roooooough! Not only for someone in a personal life, but if you’re a teacher it can make counting down the days until Winter Break feel like an E.T.E.R.N.I.T.Y! Below you’ll find my usual game plan for how to keep myself and my students sane.
It’s suggested that we cover A Christmas Carol where I teach, this is the norm in most of the school districts in my area. Last year was my first time teaching it, so I wanted to ba as conscious about my students’ beliefs as we treaded forward.
TWO WEEKS BEFORE BREAK:
I usually start the week of by having students answer a simple journal prompt question like, What are some traditions that you have? I figure if I leave it pretty open students are able to apply it to any type of group they’d like to associate it with, whether it’s family, religion, friends, or other.
Once we have the students sharing memories of years past I spring on them a few details of Winter Solstice. It’s pretty fun to see them pick apart the similarities between that and their own winter holiday.
An activity that I created can be found at my TpT store. This is an activity that I have the students work on for around two days and then they present their information for two days. I only “plan” for a four-day week because the last day of the week in my classroom is designated for SSR.
ONE WEEK BEFORE BREAK:
The week before the prized break is pretty simple, and the students ALWAYS seem to enjoy it; hopefully I didn’t just jinx myself!!
I started it off this year with the journal prompt question, Would you rather live by the sea or the mountains? Would you rather live in a big city or in the countryside? After the students shared their responses we broke into a small discussion about communities growing and why people flood to, or go to certain cities. This moved to a conversation about the Industrial Revolution and why someone would move to London when back when.
To help give students a visual of what life was like back in Charles Dickens’ day I show them the first 40-ish minutes of the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics (2012) and it is always a hit! It’s fun to see the students ask questions and get excited. After we have a brief chat about how this is the “pretty” version of what things looks like back then I transition at some point, depending on the time left in the class hour, into The Worst Jobs in History: Industrial Revolution video. It is pure gold!
These two videos usually lend themselves to some great talks and discussions. We use them as a reference point throughout the reading of A Christmas Carol. It’s a great starting base for the students.
Questions that I utilize throughout the reading of A Christmas Carol are as follows:
- Do you believe in free will or fate? Explain
- Why do people deserve kindness?
- Would you rather be loved or feared?
- Does money really matter?
- Which spirit do you believe had the greatest impact on Scrooge? Why?
- What is the difference between good and evil?
These ideas have always worked really well for me, and I hope that they work well for you as well!