Why you need to start teaching abroad

There were plenty of study abroad programs when I was in school (only a few years ago). But, I never actually studied abroad. A handful of my friends studied abroad, however.

And they loved it.

It was the best experience of their life. They learned so much, met a ton of great friends, and would do it again in a heart beat. Well, if life didn’t get in the way, that is. You’ve got a teaching job (if you don’t, here’s a list of ways to find a teaching job). You probably have an apartment 15 minutes from school. And maybe you’re married.

That’s a lot going on, isn’t it?

You long for the beaches of coastal Spain, the winding roads of Austria, and the thriving city streets of Paris. Well, there’s an alternative. And I think it’s pretty awesome.

9 Reasons You Need to Start Teaching Abroad from quizbean

You can teach abroad!

Yep. I know, it’s not ground-breaking or anything. But, it does provide an outlet for you to get the travel bug back and make a difference in the lives of young people. As if that’s not enough, here are 9 more reasons you need to hop on a plane this summer and teach abroad:

1. The impact you’ll make

Teaching abroad means you have the chance to make the same impact you’re making stateside, abroad. The students may even be more excited – and appreciative – of the opportunity they have to learn from you. And what’s better than making a difference in your student’s life? Pretty sure nothing is.

2. The other countries you’ll see

Just because you’re teaching in Tanzania doesn’t mean you can’t explore Egypt, Kenya, South Africa, etc. You’re not chained to one country. Take the chance to see the world around you when you’re so much closer than normal. I have friends who explored 10-12 other countries while working in 1. Talk about travelling the world in just a few months!

3. The food you’ll enjoy

In addition to working on QuizBean, I’ll also enjoy some interesting food on my travels. And what better way to push your culinary limits than to teach abroad? You’ll get the local flavors of the region, the greasy spoons, and maybe even some fried delicacies. Sounds like an adventure to me.

4. The people you’ll meet (remember, it’s a small world)

I remember when I was in Paris on a bench and saw Carlos Valderrama, a famous Colombian soccer player, walk past me. In Paris! When you’re abroad, you never know who you’re going to meet. There are truly amazing people out there. It’s time to see which one of them you’re going to run into.

5. The lessons you’ll learn

Many time, trips away from your normal life, lead to the most profound lessons learned. I’m talking about dramatic shifts in your values and life strategy. Other countries do that to people. I have a friend who spent a year in Thailand. He’s a better person because of it, too. How are you going to change? Pick a country and find out!

6. The increased appreciation for friends & family

Remember those Skype phone calls? And the letters? Oh, and don’t forget the care packages. When you’re abroad, away from family and friends, you’ll gain a better appreciation for what you have at home, the relationships you’ve built up, and the small things that make home, home.

7. The chance to teach something different

It’s fun to always teach general science, but what if you got the opportunity to teach biology to culinary students? Or nano-technology to students in Beijing? There are amazing teaching opportunities to explore. Try something different for once!

8. The (most-of-the-time) decreased cost of living

In many countries, it’s cheap to live. Inexpensive rent, food, and nightlife, makes teaching abroad affordable. After all, you’ve got to see all those other countries, right?

9. The feeling of accomplishment

You did it! You started teaching abroad. It has always been on of your life goals to teach in the south of France. You can now cross it off your bucket list. This feeling of accomplishment does great things for you. It shows you you can do anything you put your mind to. It shows you you can take risks. Now, what’s your next move?

Teaching abroad is an amazing experience. While not everyone is presented with the opportunity, if you are, I’d take it. You only live once, so why not spend a year in Tanzania?


10 Ways to Discover the Teaching Job You’ve Always Wanted

Teaching is one of America’s most prized careers. After all, teachers shape our nation’s youth. They prepare students with the skills and knowledge to succeed in the real-world. And they’re darn good at it.

Have you studied to become a teacher?

Thousands of young people have made it their life’s passion to teach. Whether it’s music, social studies, pottery, or wood shop, teachers are in short supply. If you’ve studied to become a teacher and sat for your teaching license, congrats. It’s not an easy feat.

But once you’ve graduated and passed your boards, you’ve got the ever-challenging job hunt ahead of you. And for most young teachers, it’s hard to find a teaching job, in your subject, in your area. Basically, a veteran teacher has to retire for a spot to open up.

How do you find the teaching job you’ve always wanted?

The internet. Yes, while full of cats and really funny GIFs, there are useful websites out there. And here are 10 of them to help you find a teaching job before you have to move back in with your parents:

1. SchoolSpring

In over 30 states, international, and online, SchoolSpring is definitely a go-to source to find your first – or next – teaching job. The site is easy to navigate and comes with several drop-down selections to narrow your search. Plus, you can opt-in to get email alerts when new jobs you’re looking for get posted.

2. The US Department of Education

If it’s anyone whose looking for amazing teachers to fill America’s classrooms, it’s the US government. Packed with resources to find jobs in charter schools, colleges, and even libraries, it’s a wealth of information to help you land a great job in education.

3. Education America

Filled with domestic and overseas teaching jobs, Education America is a great site to quickly find the teaching job you’re looking for. There’s a prominent search on the homepage as well as latest jobs posted. And, there’s even a regional search just in case you don’t want to move too far away!

4. Indeed.com

Known for finding a job in any category, anywhere, Indeed can be used to find teaching jobs across the country or in a specific location. What’s great about it is it searches tons of other career websites for teaching jobs to give you all the results in one place. You can also get new jobs by email, too.

5. Teach.org

This sleek modern-looking site lays out jobs nicely. They’re easy to find, read, and apply to. Another benefit if  you’re looking out-of-state is Teach.org has licensing and certification information for any state right in their sidebar. How about that? All the info you need in one place!

6. Jobs4Teachers.com

As the site says, Jobs4Teachers.com finds you jobs. And they have a list that out-numbers this one! With great resources like state-specific teaching sites, Jobs4Teachers says it best: “Your complete source for all information that will help you find a job as a professional educator and teacher”.

7. GetEductaed.com

This site helps you find adjunct online teaching opportunities. While specific, it’s a way to teach without having to physically be in a classroom. Adjunct teaching, while mainly done in higher-ed is perfect for people who are looking at teaching as a new career, a second job, or they just want to experience college dining one more time (ok, I’m kidding :p)

8. GoOverseas.com

Easily the best resource to find teaching overseas, GoOverseas lays out jobs in a nice visual format. They also allow you to apply to teaching jobs directly on their website. A quick glance led to finding jobs in Vietnam, China, and even Colombia. What a fun way to explore the world and make a difference at the same time.

9. ESLJobFind.com

English as a Second Language is wildly popular. I’ve not only had many friends participate in programs across the globe, but they’ve become a changed person because of it. ESLJobFind shows you a map on their homepage. You get to choose which area you want to teach in. There are country guides, other teacher’s experiences, and more. It’s worth a look if you’re up for some globe-trotting.

10. Your personal network

Don’t rule out who you know. Your parents, friends, and family may be able to get you an interview in a local school system. The best part is you’ll come with a glowing recommendation. No pressure 🙂

See? There are tons of ways to land the teaching job of your dreams. Now go browse a couple of the websites for jobs. But remember — be flexible. The job you’re looking for may be a few towns over or even out-of-state. Embrace a new experience!

What about you? Where did you find your teaching job? Let us know in the comments below.

 


5 Reasons to Create a Quiz Online

Pencil and paper are a thing of the past.

There are tablets, iphones, smart watches, voice-recognition, etc. These devices have changed the way we communicate. Heck, even some schools are removing cursive from their curriculum. (I secretly still like to write capital G’s in cursive).

Whether you like it or not, tech is here to stay.

And one of the applications that has become significantly better because of technology are online quizzes. Don’t get me wrong, it was cool to fill out the little bubbles on scantrons and the SAT’s when I was in high school.

But computers are way more awesome.

Let’s face it: you’re competing for attention every second of every day in the classroom. With phones vibrating, notes being passed, and even students storming out of class in revolt, it’s tough to get students engaged.

And that’s why online quizzes should be created online — they’re simply more engaging. And here’s five more reasons:

1. They are easy to throw together

With paper quizzes, you have to type up the questions, format the quiz, print it out, copy it, distribute it to your students, give instructions. Oh, and then you have to grade it. That’s a pain, isn’t it?

2. They can be automatically graded

Many online quiz applications have a feature that allows your quizzes to be automatically graded. This saves you a tone of time. No more hand-grading. And your students can know how they did after each question and at the end of the quiz. That’s a lot different than the week they’re used to waiting before you have time to hand them back. Automatic grading is a beautiful thing. You can thank the internet for that. 🙂

3. They can easily incorporate images

Visuals add so much to your quizzes. Whether you’re showing a picture of Rembrandt or adding a graph for your math quiz, it’s easy to add images to your online quiz. And visuals make your quiz more interesting. Plus they open you up to more question types, too.

4. They can be shared with other teachers

When you create a pencil and paper quiz, it’s your quiz. It’s hard to share. Unless, you want to copy your quiz for other teachers in your school. That’s old-school. The beauty of online quizzes is that they can be easily shared – via email, social media, or embedding your quiz in your blog. That way teachers can access your quiz for their own classroom – and you get credit. How cool is that?

5. They can be fun

Wait, what? Quizzes, fun? Yes – it’s true. If done right, online quizzes can be fun to take. Especially when there are animations, bright colors, and you get your score at the end rather than having to wait for you to grade it (yeah, see number 2). Once you’ve blasted through the boredom with fun online quizzes, you’re golden.

Online quizzes are quick, easy, and fun. They’re a heck of a lot more engaging for students and they don’t involve #2 pencils. What about you? Why do you make online quizzes?

Speaking of online quizzes, have you tried QuizBean? It’s freeeee.


10 Reasons Why Every Student Should Have a New Year’s Resolution

It’s just about 2014. And that means it’s time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished in 2013 and what you’d like to tackle in the new year.

Resolutions help us create and stick to goals throughout the year. While sometimes cliché, they truly do help many people accomplish great things.

And that’s exactly why your students should create them, too.

Students don’t normally set goals until much later in their school careers. But, they should be setting goals from the second the step into their first day in kindergarten. Here’s why:

1. Start goal planning early

There are some adults who simply don’t goal plan. And it’s because they never did it when they were a kid. What you do and learn at an early age is imprinted in who you become as an adult. No goal planning as a child means no goal planning as an adult. If you start early, when students are in elementary school, they’ll be goal setters for life.

2. Work on being focused

When students come home from school, there are one thousand things they could be doing. Maybe they eat a snack, read 10 pages in their social studies text book, or toss the football around with their older brother. This is is great, but it doesn’t create an overall focus for the year. One large goal can be broken down into smaller daily goals that require focus to complete. For example, if your students want to read 100 books this year, how does that break down into books/month and pages/day. Focus helps goals become attainable.

3. See a project to completion

“I never seem to get anything done.” It’s the classic line you’ve likely heard from adults and students a like. There simply isn’t enough time, they never complete anything, etc. By setting a goal, and giving your students a year to complete it, they’ll finally see a project to completion. Once completed, they’ll likely be motivated to set another goal. Completing one project is great. Completing three is better.

4. Show them anything is possible

If you put your mind to it. While dry and motivational, it’s true. Having been part of trying to motivate students to get things done in businesses classes throughout Vermont, I’ve seen first hand how discouraged some students get. They simply don’t attempt what they want to accomplish. Get them to set smaller goals. As these goals are met, they’ll see that anything is possible if they put their mind to it. And when things start going their way, not only will they set more goals, but their entire outlook on life changes. And that’s where the real magic happens.

5. Support each other

It’s a lot more challenging to make something happen by yourself. With a team, you’re able to strive towards a common goal and work through challenges together. Let your students create team goals. Partner with a couple other students – or even the whole class. Pick a goal that everyone is excited about. Watch how each student works together, motivating each other through the time times and celebrating the high points.

6. More experience working in teams

Teamwork is the crux of any organization – whether you work at a small business on main street or a large corporation downtown – a horse farm or an airplane – everyone works as a team. And school is one of the best environments to reinforce teamwork. As mentioned in the last list item, setting class-wide goals is the perfect alternative to individual resolutions. For example, if every students gets above a B for the semester, you’ll have an ice-cream social. While it may not be the best motivator, you’ll get to see how students work in teams to make each other successful. When one student is down, another is there to pick them up.

7. Failing is a learning experience

With New Year’s resolutions set in stone, there’s one thing left to tell your students: They may fail. They may not accomplish what they wanted to. In essence, they failed. However, this is one of my favorite learning opportunities. When students fail, they get discouraged. But, it’s what they do next that is their shining moment. Take the opportunity to show them who else has failed in history and let them know one of my favorite quotes. Those who have succeeded have fallen seven times, but have gotten up eight.

8. There’s no “coulda, woulda, shoulda”

I should have done this. I could have done that. These regrets plague successful goal setting. Don’t let your students fall in a sea of regret. Let them venture out into the un-known. Let them find out what it’s like to experience something different. If they don’t, they’ll simply be stuck saying “I coulda, shoulda, woulda…”

9. Show them the value of taking action

Don’t let your students slouch over in their desks, painfully waiting for the bell to ring. Motivate them to take action. It’s the true difference between winners and losers. Those who take action are successful. And if they fail, like in reason #7, at least they learn from their experience and take action again. It’s one thing to plan. It’s another to execute. Show them how to execute.

10. It’s fun

Goal setting, while often written off as boring and useless, is actually quite fun. For students who are just getting their first taste of goal setting, it can be daunting. But, let your students create any goal they’d like. And the set them free. Watch them work with themselves, other students, and maybe even you to show them how much fun it is.

There are many people who view New Year’s resolutions as something that’s ripe for failure. Sure, a lot of New Year’s goals fall through the cracks, but what about the successes? The people who have changed their lives for the better, done something they never thought was possible. This is why people set goals – to crush the barriers between them and success.

Get your students on the path to success by setting a New Year’s resolution that’s specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely – because, well, that’s the smart thing to do to.

Have your students made New Year’s resolutions? How have you turned it into a fun and engaging lesson plan?

 


The Best Funny (and Inspirational) Teacher Videos of 2013

The holiday break has started for many of you. With much of higher-ed closing down the dorms and heading home, you should be all cozy and comfortable on the couch by now. It’s time to relax, sip your cocoa, and put on fuzzy slippers.

That’s also why we’re making this week’s blog post a little light-hearted. We know you can’t get completely away from your classroom over break, so rather than write about how you can engage your students or games you can play at recess, I thought I’d list a couple teacher videos I found funny this year (and a few inspirational ones, too). Here’s a look:

1. Said no teacher ever

2. Make Science fun (not funny, but entertaining)

3. An Elementary School Teacher tries his hand at stand-up comedy (at least some of it’s funny!)

4. KidSnippets (Art Class)

5. Hip Hop Algebra Teacher (More Stand-up from a former teacher)

6. Sometimes Children Inspire Teachers

7. Every Kid Needs a Champion

8. The Lollipop Story (not 2013, but I just watched it and I love it)

9. “Don’t Stop Good Teaching”

10. (MY FAVORITE) Kid President’s Message to Teachers and Students

Do you have any videos to share with us? Let us know in the comments below. Plus. since it is two days away from Christmas, have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year! See you in 2014, teacher-friends!


What to look for in an online quiz maker

There are tons of ways to create a free quiz online. From complex learning management systems to free quiz makers for teachers, it’s tough to figure out what’s going to work best for your classroom.

Below, you’ll find a list of features we think you should have in every quiz maker you use. If you’ve got something to add to the list, let us know in the comments below.

Here goes!

1. Easy to use

This doesn’t really have to be said, but the quiz maker has to be easy to use. You don’t have a lot of time to fuss with software because there’s tons of other stuff you have to do. Quick and easy is the name of the game.

2. No email required for students

Children under 13 technically can’t use/have an email in a school setting. That means you want your quiz maker to be able to handle students who don’t have an email address. Some quiz makers accomplish this with codes and others make special usernames. Either way, make sure this is a feature of your quiz maker of choice.

3. Instant grading

Remember when your students had to wait a week to get quiz results back. Not anymore! Instant grading is perfect for students and teachers. For students, they get their score at the end of the quiz (and each question). For teachers, you get your student’s grades sent to your dashboard in just seconds saving you tons of time hand-grading with that pesky red pen.

4. Question explanations

Just letting your quiz-taker know they’re wrong isn’t going to cut it. Let them know more about the correct answer with images and text – and even a hyper-link to more information. This way, the correct answer gets reinforced even though they did get the question wrong.

5. Simple sharing

When you create a quiz, don’t you want other people to take it? That means your chosen quiz maker should make it easy to share your quiz — via email, social media, and more. And after your quiz is shared you want to know the stats, too. That leads to #6.

6. Stats!

Everyone loves stats. How many people have taken your quiz? What’s the average score? Are students tripping up on a certain question? With a robust stats and analytics package, your quiz maker should do a lot of the number crunching for you.


QuizBean is an online quiz maker for K-12 teachers to help them instantly assess their students. Plus, it’s quick and easy to use. Get started for free at QuizBean.com.


5 EdTech Startups We Think are Pretty Cool

When you live in Vermont, there’s a lot of allure of big city like Boston. There are more people, more companies, awesome eats (shout-out to Union Square Donuts) and well, an enormous public transportation system. Boston is the closest tech-hub to Vermont. It’s fun for all of us to head down once-in-a-while to meet other edtech entrepreneurs, go to a conference, or just spend the weekend.

Last weekend, I headed to Boston for the day with my family. I was down there simply to eat. But, ended up coming across a terrific company, Sprout, looking to blend the environment with a writing utensil used by K-12 students across the country — the pencil.

When I returned, I thought I’d write up some of the other edtech (and some not-so-tech) companies I’ve seen over the past few months. Here we go:

1. Sprout

Sprout - a pencil with a seed

Sprout is a company producing pencils with seed capsules on the end of them. Just plant, water, and watch it grow.

You know when you’d try to erase your pencil marks and the eraser would make a nasty gray-meets-graphite smear on your notebook paper? Yeah – it was the worst.  Well, forget about that pesky eraser and add a capsule. What? Yes – that’s right. A capsule. The team at Sprout has attached a biodegradable capsule that, when planted, results in a beautiful plant. So, when you’re finished using the pencil, simply plant the capsule end in a pot, water it, and wait. Yep – awesome. Pencil to plant can’t be any easier.

Find out more at http://www.democratech.us/sprout/

2. Codecademy

CodeAcademy - learn to code for free

Learn to code for free at CodeAcademy

We’re a bunch of tech-obsessed programmers, marketers, and product managers. Some of us code in our sleep, others have a basic knowledge of HTML & CSS, and we’re still trying to convince the rest of the team to get on board. How do you get the basics down pat? Use Codecademy! In a full-day, I had basic HTML & CSS under my belt (Granted it was last Christmas so I devoted my full attention). If you’re looking to learn, Codecademy has much more than just front-end tutorials. You can explore JS, Python, Ruby, and even work with a couple APIs.

Learn to code at http://www.codecademy.com

3. Listen Edition

Listen Edition

Listen Edition helps teachers incorporate public radio into common-core aligned lesson plans.

I always wrote off NPR until it was used by a lot of professors as a multimedia tool where I went to college. I learned a ton – just from listening. And now Listen Edition wants to bring public radio to classrooms across the nation to help build listening skills – and then some. From their website: Listen Edition curates public radio stories and builds custom lesson plans around them that are written to the Common Core and aligned with state standards. Talk about increased engagement!

Help your students listen and learn at http://www.listenedition.com/

4. Year E-Book (pronounced year-y book)

This company hasn’t launched yet, but I’m excited to see it exists. They’re hoping to take antiquated hard-bound year books and turn them into digital versions for the ipad. And they’ll help students connect with each other, write messages, sign names, and post videos that can be approved by the student. The best part? The take the same file you send to the printer and convert it to be useable on an ipad. No extra work for you.

Make your year book different this year with Year E-Book at https://angel.co/year-ebook

5. DropIn

DropIn - the real college experience

DropIn connects prospective college students with current college students to immerse them in the real college experience

Remember going on a college tour and getting the “pre-packaged” chatter from the tour guide? DropIn is attempting to eliminate the college tour in exchange for being hosted by a real student — it’s basically the AirBnB of college tours. Drop In connects those students interested in a college visit with current students who want to host them. I believe this fundamentally changes the college research process. No more scripted tour guide. It’s the real college experience.

Find out more about DropIn at http://thedropin.co/

Have you found any cool education start-ups? Let us know about them in the comments.


10 of the Best Gift Ideas for Teachers

You only have a couple weeks left to get everyone crossed off your Christmas list. And one of those people is probably your son or daughter’s school teacher.

What are you going to get them? Another candle? Or maybe some markers? No way! Here’s 10 ideas any school teacher would love to receive for the holidays.

1. Fresh-baked goodies

I’m pretty sure all of America loves chocolate chip cookies. How could they not? If you’re looking for an inexpensive way to say thank you, cookies, brownies, and cupcakes, go straight to the front of the line. And if you burn the house down whenever you turn the oven on, feel free to purchase goodies from a local bakery.

2. A gift card to Staples

Classroom supplies from pens to pads of paper and even binder ring supporters – they’re in low supply when many teachers are footing the bill for supplies. Give them a gift card to Staples or Office Depot so they can get what they need for their spring class.

3. A gift card to the grocery store

People either love or hate grocery shopping – just like cooking. But, everyone has to eat. Make it easier on your kid’s teacher by giving them a gift card to the grocery store. Then, they’ll be able to get that filet mignon they’ve always wanted!

4. A couple months of a useful K-12 web application

Technology is making a positive impact throughout the entire classroom. Encourage the use of it by purchasing a couple months of a popular web app. How about giving QuizBean a shot? I hear it’s pretty stellar at quickly assessing students. Start at QuizBean.com

5. One big gift from the whole class

Have all the students put a hand-print on a poster or sign a platter. One gift from the whole class means a lot to teachers because it serves as a memory for that year. Get a couple parents together and start brainstorming ideas!

6. A 90-minute massage

Love massages? Teachers do! When they work 60-80 hour work weeks, there’s no time for relaxation. Give them the gift of massage and you’ll be their favorite parent for years to come. And yes, it works for both male and female teachers!

7. Gas card

Everyone has to make it to work. And that means gas money. Get your son’s teacher a gas card for a week’s worth of gas. If they don’t want to use it on gas for commuting, there’s always an end-of-the-year road trip!

8. Bouquet of flowers (for the ladies)

Flowers simply brighten your day (when they’re not plastic). Find a local florist or drop by your neighborhood grocery store to find the perfect bouquet. Get them delivered, too — it’ll be a great surprise on a dreary winter day.

9. A gift card to AC Moore or Michael’s

If you head into any craft store from the end of July into August, you’ll find it packed with teachers who are buying supplies (likely out of their own pocket) to decorate their classroom before their students come. And they’ll do it several times before the year is over. GIve them financial relief and pay for decorating their classroom. After all, your kid is there 180 days a year, right?

10. A nice restaurant in your town

Teachers don’t often spoil themselves when it comes to food. The teachers I know mak a lot of meals at home, bring their lunch to school, and don’t enjoy the fine restaurants in town. Help them out. Give them a gift certificate to the finest place in town. That way, they can take their best friend, partner, or spouse on a night on the town.

What ideas do you have to give teachers for the holidays?

 


QuizBean no longer requires a student email address

When our team launched QuizBean to the K-12 crowd a few weeks ago, we received a flood of new sign-ups, tons of feedback from teachers across the country, and super-creative ideas about how to improve QuizBean. We listened to you and started making changes.

Here’s what’s new at QuizBean:

 

Send Quizzes to Students who don’t have an email address

This is big. You can now send your quiz to any student in your class – no email address required. We simply create a username for them that’s @quizbean.com — but it’s not an email address. When students log-in with their @quizbean username, they’ll be presented with the quiz in their dashboard. It’s pretty awesome.

QuizBean accepts accents and characters

You asked for accents and characters to be accepted in text fields. And since QuizBean has users from over 130 countries, we thought that should get fixed asap. We’re happy to announce QuizBean has been updated to accept characters and accents.

Quickly duplicate quizzes for other classes

You may have the perfect quiz for 1st period biology, but maybe not 7th period. Quickly duplicate the quiz, swap some questions, randomize on the send, and you’re good to go. That means you eliminate cheating AND save time without having to build the quiz over again. Wahoo!

There’s more coming! If you haven’t checked QuizBean out in a while, give it a spin. I’d love to hear any feedback – positive or negative – you have.


7 Ways to Keep Your Students Motivated Until Christmas Break

I’m writing this post from sunny Orlando, Florida. I’m on vacation for Thanksgiving week with my family. It’s actually kind of cold here — a whopping 40 degrees this morning, but I’m happy to be on vacation.

However, my mind is simply on my next vacation — Christmas break. And I’m sure your students are super excited for Christmas, too. But, you’ve got to get through a couple more weeks of school. With sugar cookies, christmas presents, and family coming in from out-of-town, things can get crazy.

Luckily, here’s 7 strategies to keep your student’s eyes on the board and acing their exams, all the way through the holidays.

1. Reward your students

It’s just a short couple of weeks between the two holiday breaks. So, putting a reward at the end of the three weeks will motivate your students. The rewards could be anything from a popcorn party to a cookie party or inviting parents in for a hot chocolate throw-down.

2. Use arts and crafts to teach lessons

There are so many craft ideas during the holidays – reindeer, dreidels, menorahs, christmas trees — you name it.  Get your craft supplies out and make holiday cards, reindeer masks, or construction paper menorahs. Teach your students stories about the history of all holidays to make it educational.

3. Let students share stories from the holidays

I love story time. Get out the wide-lined paper and a pencil, plus some crayons and have your students draw and write stories from holiday time. Keep the stories PG of course. Some prompts could be, tell me about the best place you’ve travelled for the holidays, draw your whole family around the holiday table, make a list of what you love about the holidays, etc.

4. Make lessons holiday-oriented

Math gets more exciting when it’s about cookies taken from the cookie jar, how fast Santa’s sleigh is going, or calculating the speed of a dreidel. Incorporate the lessons into holidays to get your students excited.

5. Extend recess – let those kids run!

When it gets colder (in much of the nation), students often don’t get outside enough. And when you have pent up student energy, it’s got to be released somehow. Recess is the perfect way for students to unwind, play with friends, and be creative. And in the winter, I don’t think there’s a problem with extending it a couple minutes to get the “wintry mix” out of your student’s system.

6. Calendar count-down

“10 days until holiday break!” Can you picture your students screaming for joy? Here’s one way you can make it even more exciting: have a holiday reward on each of the ten days (or month-long calendar if you can make it that long). Maybe it’s a joke or show and tell. Or, you could give your class candy canes on the last day of school before break. Each day, your students will be excited to see what the countdown calendar has in store!

7. Make gingerbread houses

Personal favorite, right here. Gingerbread houses were awesome to build as a kid. We would take old milk cartons (not the crates), coat them with white icing, and decorate them with random candies. They would harden and we’d take them home. Do the same thing with your students for an afternoon before they go home — it works the creative side of their brain and well, it’s candy so what’s wrong with that?

How do you keep your students focused and motivated for a few weeks before holiday break? Let me know by leaving a comment below.