By Lani Aquino
Spring Fever can be a dangerous condition. Students (and teachers) have had a taste of some time off over spring break, and it can be hard to snap out of vacation mode. After a week of travel or sleeping in or lazy days or fun adventures or any combination of these, getting back to the daily ins and outs of the school day can be less than appealing.
Spring break is a well-timed reminder that adding some intrigue and freshness to school day routines is needed. Many return from this brief respite with an end-of-the-year countdown ticking and a game plan for wrapping up the year. The problem with that mindset is that all those days left between spring break and summer deserve much more than a cursory wrap-up. Making spring the time for revving up learning rather than winding it down is the best mindset to exhibit and spread. These 5 supercharging ideas will put end-of-the-year countdowns on the backburner and offer the reboot needed to get students and teachers excited about learning.
Add More Student Choice- The addition of options can really increase student engagement. When students have more open-ended ways to approach learning, they are able to invest more of their passions and interests into what they are doing which will in turn increase engagement and ownership of the learning. Whether this translates to selecting a topic of study or devising a personalized way to showcase learning or adopting a community project of interest, more opportunities for student choice will mean more on-task and engaged students.
Change Up the Location- If at all possible, add some new scenery to the mix. Stepping outside of the usual confines can be a very engaging change for students and teachers. Do a spring project that involves sharing final products with younger or older students. Having buildings housing different grade levels within walking distance offers a variety of ways to partner with classes at different grade levels. Middle school students can create picture books with math, science, social studies, or ELA concepts showcased and invite elementary students over for a book share. Classes can head outside when possible for experiments and/or inspiration. Tapping into lesser used spaces in the building like auditoriums, stages, wide hallways, etc. can offer just enough change of scenery to leave students feeling refreshed.
Transform the Learning Environment- Take a concept or theme from a spring unit of study and really run with it. Spicing up the aesthetics to reflect a time period, a novel’s setting, a geographical location, etc. offers students a break from what can start to feel like a tired learning environment. Making students a part of the transformation gives them an opportunity to showcase their skills and enjoy diving into their studies in an environment crafted from their own designs.
Take on a Community Project- There is always a lot of focus on community projects around the holidays or when temperatures dip. It’s important to note that there are still needs within a community even when the weather begins to make a much-welcomed turn. Focusing on the giving spirit during the spring can allow for some other community needs to be highlighted. Students can undertake beautification projects, organize a gently used book or toy drive, collect items for blessing bags, etc. There may be a cause that holds a personal interest for a particular classroom or school, and exploring ways to come together as a community of learners and helpers can be a powerful motivator that leaves a lasting impression on all involved.
Get Students Moving- There is a lot of talk about getting students moving in the winter months, but movement is a year-round initiative. While it may seem likely that kids are spending more time out and about with extended daylight hours, this isn’t always the case. The lure of the warmer air and sunshine can be even more of a reminder of all the time being spent as a sedentary learner. Finding ways to get students moving as they learn, sprinkling in movement breaks, and getting kids outside when possible will do wonders in boosting their ability to focus in the long run.
Springtime is the perfect time to hit a refresh button for learning. The change in seasons can often bring about a change in attention spans and engagement. Being mindful of these shifts is the first step in keeping spring fever at bay. By pulling a few new ideas out of the toolkit to supercharge the learning environment, teachers and students can be well on their way to making spring the season for revving up learning!
If you enjoyed the thoughts and ideas shared here, check out the trainings and tools (for teachers and for families) that we offer.