12 Days of Christmas: Creating a Positive Classroom Environment
Over the past year, I've written two posts about creating a positive classroom environment, but neither were for my own blog. So when I saw this as a topic for Focused on Fifth's 12 Days of Christmas series, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to share a little positivity here as well.
A few years ago, I started teaching a Winter Holidays unit. I was looking for something different than the traditional "Christmas Around the World" and wanted to broaden my students’ awareness of other holidays that occur during the fall and winter months. At the time, my students were struggling with theme. So although the unit mainly focused on nonfiction topics, I decided to incorporate thematic elements as well.
The holidays we learned about were Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and Diwali. Although the four were quite different, students noticed that the idea of light was important to each one. Whether in decorations or figurative ideas, lights continually popped up in our discussions of each holiday.
This also was the year that I had a difficult class. Not overly unmanageable, but the type that seemed to enjoy bickering with each other. I was overwhelmed with tattling and selfish behaviors. I needed a tool that would be easy to implement and bring much needed change.
And so, Holiday Lights was created. It’s a super simple resource and can be used in a variety of ways. There are twelve cards each containing a short writing task for students to complete. The cards ask students to reflect on one way that they can be a light to others and then write about their thoughts.
The resource includes notes for you, 12 task cards, two different types of response pages, a cover page, and direction sheets for students. Here are a few ideas for how to use this free resource in your classroom:
Create a packet for students that includes:
- Holiday Lights Cover Page
- All of the Task Cards
- 12 Copies of the Response Pages
1. Complete in Class. Have students complete one task each day as they enter in the morning, return from recess, or at the end of the day. When finished, have students share their responses with a partner, table, or the whole class.
2. Complete for homework. Assign one task for homework each night during the final two weeks of December. It’s a simple way to provide students with meaningful writing practice while giving them something to think about.
3. Complete over break. I know not everyone “assigns” work over holiday breaks. However, there are some who do and even a few parents who request it! This would be an incredibly easy “holiday packet” to send home with students over the long break. Students won’t feel like they’re really doing work and parents will be pleased to have something for them to do.
Copy enough task cards for your class onto cardstock, cut out, and laminate. (I had 25 students, so I needed two copies of each card plus one extra). Place cards in a basket or bin.
1. For an activity that lasts one week, create a response packet that contains a cover sheet and five response pages. Have students pick up a task card from the bin as they enter the room or pass out cards randomly. When students have finished responding and sharing, they can return their cards to the bin or trade with a partner so that they are ready to write first thing the next day.
2. For an activity that lasts one day, pass out one response sheet to each student. Complete the activity as a class by modeling the process first and then having students complete their own cards individually, in partners, or in small groups.
Although this activity lasted only a few short days, I feel it helped to improve the environment of the classroom as a whole. Students began noticing others and how they could be helpful – first in small ways by just only a few students, but later spreading to others. Hopefully you’ll find it a valuable part of your holiday lessons this year!
You can download the free resource here. If you do, let me know how it works for you. I love receiving feedback and stories from the classroom!
I've created a Pinterest board with more ideas for managing your classroom. Click the image below to visit it or to pin this article for later:
What sort of activities or resources do you use to promote positivity during the holidays or throughout the year?