In a recent #EdSlowChat on Twitter, Anthony Purcell @MrP_tchr posed a question regarding what to do with the “Holiday Sandwich,” named for the gap or valley created during December by the Thanksgiving and Christmas or Winter breaks.
Frankly, this time of year is exciting for many reasons, but also challenging in terms of keeping students engaged in learning. (Sometimes its even hard for me to stay engaged!) For me, a high school English teacher, I feel like I never want to start another big unit (aka book or play) because this 3.5 week period plays more like 2 weeks in a more (traditionally) productive time of year.
My own answer to this question is captured in my tweet response on the chat. This year some colleagues and I decided to take a chance with a new PBL experience (see BIE for a better explanation than I’ll ever give) for students that involves embracing the learning value in a world of tragedy, change, and challenge. The recent terrorist attacks in France, the ongoing Syrian Refugee Crisis, and the ensuing political and ideological battles in the United states can create confusion and concern in students, and thus become opportunities meaningful learning. This is how I (we) plan to keep kids and myself focused during the “sandwich.” The time can be stretched or condensed based on student work and response, so there’s urgency to learn but not a strict time limitation. I know it doesn’t sound like the most fa la la thing to do, but at a time of year when we all, in some way, consider what’s most important, some perspective building and relevant learning might be a gift worth giving.