7 Tips to Prevent Winter Break Brain Drain
Dec. 19, 2017 | For Educators
With winter break just around the corner, it’s once again time for festive holidays, family celebrations, and a welcome vacation from the classroom. It’s also a time when your students are at risk of forgetting a lot of the skills they learned pre-vacation. PowerMyLearning Connect can help! Using the platform over break keeps kids engaged and challenged while out of school.
Last December, we shared our 7-Step Plan for Preventing Winter Break Brain Drain. This year, we’re bringing you an enhanced version of the plan that’ll ensure your students are ringing in the New Year on the right foot.
Step 1: Pick Your Playlists
First, plan what you want students working on. You can:
- Create a Winter Break playlist that covers topics you’ve recently taught and sets the stage for what’s to come in January, or
- Use this as a time to review playlists that you’ve previously assigned.
Either way, remember that all playlists should include a video or tutorial for each topic covered. This can prove useful for students who need a refresher.
Step 2: Set the Time
Next, determine how long you want students working on these playlists. We recommend an average of 30 minutes per day. With most winter breaks lasting around 10 days, that amounts to five total hours over break. Encourage students to work a little each day, rather than completing all five hours at once.
Step 3: Check In with Daily Checkpoints
Use PowerMyLearning Connect’s assessment functionality to create a Checkpoint for each day you want students working over break. Ask a question to jog their metacognitive thinking skills, such as:
- Can you remember what we discussed in class before break? What was it and how well do you think you could do it on your own?
- What is one activity in the playlist that has helped you understand fractions better? Why?
Make sure to use your final Checkpoint to survey students about their experience. You can ask:
- What topics did you find yourself spending the most time on over break?
- In what areas do you feel like you still need help?
- What did you like or not like about using PowerMyLearning Connect over break?
Step 4: Assign a Playlist Task
You can also use our Playlist Task functionality to ask one overarching question that students answer while they interact with activities. Did your students spend break reading A Tree Grows in Brooklyn? Did your playlist include different sources to help them understand the book? Add a Playlist Task asking them to describe their favorite and least favorite parts of the book, and explain which playlist resource they liked best.
Learn more about using Playlist Tasks and Checkpoints in our Support Center.
Step 5: Make It a Contest
Here are a few ways you can structure a contest to keep kids motivated to use PowerMyLearning Connect during break. And by using the Class Leaderboard, students can see where they stand among their classmates.
- One winner. The winner is the student with the most time spent on PowerMyLearning Connect.
- Two winners. Assign buddies that will encourage each other to work over break. The winner is the pair with the greatest combined time.
- Many winners. Offer the entire class a prize if everyone completes the assignment. This pushes students to hold each other accountable.
Don’t forget the prizes! Prizes can be extra computer time or a class pizza party. They don’t have to be big, but they are an important element!
Step 6: Share the Joy of Learning
Offer students bonus points for documenting and sharing the learning experience via photos. Students can upload and submit pictures of themselves learning with a family member or friend using our Playlist Task feature. You can hang the photos on a Wall of Fame in your classroom after break!
Step 7: Build Excitement Before Break
Before vacation begins, spend a day in class doing a scavenger hunt on PowerMyLearning Connect to explore what you’ve assigned. Have students create their own learning plan by giving them a winter break calendar and letting them select when they will complete their assigned work.
Follow these simple steps and you can ensure that your students don’t fall victim to the dreaded Winter Break Brain Drain.