Beat the Winter Break Madness!

Life as a middle school teacher can get hectic around the winter break!  Beat the madness!  #teaching #classroom

Madness!  That's what some people think of the days leading up to the Winter Break.  Or some of you may think my idea is madness to prepare for the New Year before the break!

Whichever camp you're in, I'd like to share how to beat the madness with preparation!

First, plan to have students complete final projects for the second to last week before the break.  I'm a fan of having students present during the last week before the break with a rubric to grade the project during the presentation.   Then when the presentations are complete, so are the grades!  All that's left is to input them and celebrate!  

Need some ideas for a final project?  What about a little holiday fun, research and writing all in one?  Try this:

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Now while students are working on these projects, I circulate the room and let my mind wander to January and ask myself some questions:

What will I be teaching?
What copies do I need to make? Digital or paper?
What are my passwords?  (I place these under my keyboard!)
What other materials do I need?  (I look on Teachers Pay Teachers now!)
Will we have new seats?  (I make that new chart!)

Then I proceed to make my list and check it twice to make sure all these things are done before I leave for the glorious two-week vacation! 

I clean off my desk and set it up with notes to myself on top of my copies or laptop just so I remember what to do when I get back.  Now I can truly relax because everything is done and ready for the New Year!

Now is the time!  Get your last assignments all lined up for your students and begin your checklist!  Let your break be truly a break!!

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New Ideas for Growth Mindset & Grit in the Classroom

Get new growth mindset lesson & activity ideas for your Middle School students.  #forteachers

After the school year gets underway and students get into a routine, sometimes they seem to need a little something extra to get them over the finish line.  

Get some new ideas for growth mindset and grit from fellow secondary English Teachers when we discussed this topic during a recent Twitter chat - just scroll on down!

Welcome! What and where do you teach? Include a link to your blog if you have one.
Tonight's chat is hosted by so look for questions coming from me!
Q1: How do you define grit in the classroom?
A1: In the true sense of the word, I think grit in the classroom is the innate motivation to not only learn from the experience, but to think about how it can be taught from a different perspective.
A1: In education, I define "grit" as having the stamina to find solutions to the problems we encounter. Both Ss and Ts can show grit in the classroom (sometimes together and sometimes separately)!
A1: Grit in the classroom is students building, collaborating, problem-solving, discovering, exploring, failing, revising, improving, disagreeing (and all the other infinitives you can think of) for the purpose of learning or creating something valuable.
A1: - and doing all of this with a growth mindset! Never give up! Keep encouraging each other to try again! I don’t know it yet, but I will!
A1: For me, I define it as when students represent perseverance and determination, even when met with some sort of obstacle(s)
A1: Being willing to persevere, stamina
Q2: What are the best ways to introduce students to grit?
A2: I like to show clips from movies and then talk about those to introduce grit. I also talk about well known fictional characters and we can have great conversations from those.
A2 I think the best first way to develop is to start developing relationships and build a student-centered classroom from day 1. Kids won't feel safe to explore and take risks if they don't trust you!
Teaching growth mindset and the POWER of YET! Also, have them revise something simple like a paragraph multiple times to see the growth.
A2: I think introducing grit as soon as possible will have long-term benefits. By giving S’s plenty of time to develop their own definition of grit, they may have a better chance at grasping & sticking to the commitment.
A2: Maybe a picture book Like "My Fantastic Elastic Brain"?
Using picture books can be so powerful!
Q3: What types of activities and assignments help students to build grit in the classroom?
A3: The first thing that comes to mind is an assignment w/ a similar model to a flow chart. S’s continue to do work that brings them to a final answer, & at the end, they have a finished product they can take pride in.
A3 I have a series of units to build a as well as a set of videos/Google form reflections.
A3: I have never used them but hope to incorporate them in the spring -- genius hour projects! I truly feel like these can help students build grit, especially as they build from their own interests and sustained passions.
A3: In ELA, the writing process is a great tool to use.
I can do this. This is hard but with work I can succeed. I can find a way to do this. --Just a few off the top of my head.

Replying to 
Thank you for those. Maybe having them as visual reminders around the room would be great as well.
Q4: How can we assist parents in encouraging grit at home?
A4: I would like to implement a question of the week that relates to students' passions and long-term goal setting that parents/guardians could be a part of.
A4: Communicating the importance of revision. If parents don't know students are able to improve their work, they cannot encourage the student at home.
A4: We can assist parents by including growth mindset statements in our communications with them.
A4: On a basic level I would say enforcing how grit will benefit everyone involved: T’s, S’s, AND P’s. Teachers & parents should want to work together to provide a strong support system so students can feel comfortable with their education.
Q5: How can you build a culture of grit in your school building or district?
A5: A culture can be developed only if everyone is on board and speaks the same language.
Replying to 
Yes, but it can begin as a small group first. When others see the results, they will usually jump on board too!
A5: There are great resources available. PD, PLC time - however you get the information out.
A3 this is an awesome resource !
Thank you for joining us tonight nation with an extra special thanks to for guest hosting!
This is our last chat for 2018. Join us on January 15, 2019, for our first chat of the new year - New Year, Better Teaching!
You can even get reminded of the chat by joining our Remind Group:
We keep the conversation going all day every day at our Facebook Group and we would love for you to join!
Thanks for stopping by!