Christmas break.... ahhh.... the peaceful 2 weeks between the crazy December hullabaloos, and the dark and dreary January funk, to be followed by the even more dismal February weeks of never-ending day after day after day.
Winter has set in solid and hard, with snow on the ground since the begining of November. The days are long and cold, snowy and dark, with no respite on the horizon. The first snowfall excites me and students, usually in the middle of October. We see those huge, wet, soft flakes drifting lazily by the window and our blood races thinking SLEDS, SKIS, SNOWSHOES, SNOWMOBILES.
By January, the novelty has worn off, and we see the snowflakes blurring horizontal past the window thinking, where is the sun, why is it snowing again, how long until summer.
Aside from the obvious weather challenges of driving and shoveling, these days mean as a classroom teacher, my lessons have to sparkle and shine, to make up for the lack of outdoor contentment. Students are in a midyear rut, the routines of 7th grade now keeping them complacent in their work habits. It becomes almost like starting the year anew in many ways, as I try to capture their attention.
With all that in mind, as my vacation time stretches far ahead, my thoughts are pulling back to the classroom, wondering how to make monomials and square roots and radicals, something to capture the interest of even the most reluctant of my students. How can I somehow make prealgebra magical and enticing? I need something hands on and meaninful, engaging and motivating, quick paced and easy. hmmm............... so much for vacation, eh?