Friday, December 21, 2012

My hopes for Winter Break

I am not sure anyone would question the need for two weeks off.  Our students have endured a great deal over the past three weeks.  There was much placed upon them.  For the most part, they rose to the occasion.  Consider yesterday, 12.20, in Social Studies as an example of this commitment.  I made the call that I would give full credit to each student on the team if everyone made the commitment to submitting a completed Chapter 20 Enrichment sheet on time.  It is a great deal to ask 115 students to commit to something that will help others and themselves.  Essentially, by 8th period, you had people looking out for one another, asking questions about work submission, and like good politicians, scouring the wing for every possible vote or submission.  It was great to see.  In the end, all of them came through.  The work has been evident.
Certainly, break and rest is needed to recharge.  I don't doubt its importance.  Yet, I stress to all students and parents that the two weeks away from school not be away from some type of mental fitness.  I have told the students that when they come back to school in January, it will seem as if there was no such break.  There will be immediate immersion, as if a beat was not missed, as if there was no break.  It is important for students to know that I will not be assigning homework over the break.  Yet, I have assigned over 16 extra credit tasks which can be found here.  Students might be interested in completing the extra credit for the lucrative point value.  Yet, the real value of the extra credit lies in being able to exercise the mind over the break, continually ensuring that its fitness is evident so that when school starts, burnout and sluggish demeanor can be avoided.  The idea of our society being one in which all the muscles are worked out "except the right one" is something from which we can pivot away by teaching our students to be constantly mentally fit.  Reading for 20 or 30 minutes, doing some writing about thoughts, meditating, or even examining news events through the online written medium might help here.  My hope for students is that they really do see to it that their minds are kept in good shape so that our return from break is not a rude awakening in terms of work output.
In terms of Social Studies when we return, this is what I see on the horizon:
Monday, 1.7- Everything will be returned.  All work will be returned.  This includes progress reports in Social Studies.  These can be returned with parent/ guardian signature for extra credit.  The notetaking guides for sections 1 and 2 will be assigned Monday night.
Tuesday, 1.8- The notetaking guides for sections 3 and 4 and for the arc of World War I are assigned.
Wednesday, 1.9- Breakouts based on where students are as well as finalizing in class work day for notetaking guides.
Thursday, 1.10- Start previewing the Themes of World War I in small breakouts or, if we are ready, in large groups.
Friday, 1.11- Start straight lecture on Themes of World War I

The mental fitness that students commit to over break will help them be fit and sharp when they return, as the work awaiting them with open arms might make them feel that the break has simply evaporated away.
It's a common reaction! : )

I wish all of you happy holidays and restful times with family and loved ones.  I anticipate spending my break enjoying the company of my wife... and about a ton of grading.  Grades will be updated hopefully no later than January 4, 2013.
All best,
Mr. Kannan

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