How to Reset a New Semester for Secondary ELA

Winter break is the perfect time to reset everything. Spending more time with family and friends and doing more of what makes you happy can clear your head of the school year so far. Once you’ve had a chance to reflect about what went well and what could have gone better, here are a few suggestions for resetting your classroom.

1) Plan a “reset” activity for students

Although it might be tempting to get right back into your content, having your students spend a period or two to “reset” their mindset for the new year can be extremely valuable. Here are a few suggestions:

Word of the Year One-Pagers: This is a fun one where students can get innovative! Students pick a word to represent their year and flex their creativity to create a one-pager all about it.

Your Time in Jelly Beans Activity + Bulletin Board Kit: Use this resource in conjunction with the viral inspirational YouTube video “Your Time in Jelly Beans.” Students make predictions on how we spend our time in life before viewing the video, and then check how accurate their answers were after. Leads to great discussion, perfect for the start of the new year. You can also choose to have students fill out a reflective response on their own jelly bean to create a collaborative bulletin board.

New Year, New Student Bingo Challenge: Get your students motivated to change old habits for the new year in a week-long challenge. Students choose 5 challenges from the bingo game board horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Optionally, you can have students attempt blackout bingo to really make an impact in the new year. This resource also comes with a pre-challenge questionnaire and a post-challenge reflection to get students thinking and discussing during the whole process!

2) Review and/or revise classroom routines

Reminding your students of your classroom routines is really important after a break. Students need to reset their memories

New seating charts: Now that you know your students a lot more, rearranging the seating chart can be perfect for a fresh start. Maybe even switch up the desk layouts as well. For example, if you traditionally do rows in your classroom, consider doing groups of four or pairs of desks together, even triads work well for some classes. Grouping students can lend itself well to group activities like choral reading, jigsaw activities, and more.

Review classroom procedures: This is also a great time to review or revise classroom procedures, especially if there were some routines during first semester that didn’t work out as well as you hoped. With this editable resource, students learn your classroom procedures in a scavenger hunt. Helps saves your voice and gets your students moving!

New warm-up routine: Along with changing some of your procedures in the classroom, maybe your warm-up routine has gotten stale too (or you never had a warm-up routine to begin with!) If you’ve never done bell ringers before, they are a great way to get your class going in the same way every day. These daily celebration grammar bell ringers have five common grammatical errors for students to find every day, and they’re also a great way to learn about what makes each day special! Comes in print and digital.

3) Survey students and parents

Your mileage may vary with this one, but I like to survey both students and parents about how the school year has gone so far. Surveying can give me new perspectives I hadn’t considered before, but similarly, it can also be frustrating if I get criticism back on things that I know I did to benefit my students (and they just don’t understand that yet). It takes some thick skin, but it can be worth doing if you can filter out the results that really matter. Here’s a Teacher Report Card resource that can help!

Happy new semester!


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