Tuesday, March 3, 2020

The Doldrums

Years ago, I used to read The Phantom Tollbooth to my students in the winter. One of the scenes took place in the Doldrums which was a new vocabulary word for my students. It means a state of inactivity or depression. This book was perfect for reading in the winter because it was funny and exciting and many of my students could relate to the main character.

Our weather is dreary with rain, clouds, and possible snow. I think the weathermen say that so everyone will go buy milk, bread, and eggs!

Students are feeling down, tired, and just plain old cranky. So are teachers.

It’s during this time that teachers need to dig deep into their “tool bag” and liven up the class a little.

During this time, I like to do mini-lessons. I get away from the same type of lessons that I’ve been doing and go for the shorter, quick results kinds of lessons. These lessons are usually one class period long instead of a week or a unit. It might focus on an important person, thing, or event from that unit. I can create a whole lesson around that item or I can have students do the research and present it to the class in a way that they would find interesting.

I also like to bring in speakers at this time. Students enjoy hearing from someone else other than me. I can call the American Legion or the VA to find out if they know any veterans who would want to come to speak to my class. I like to invite politicians to tell about how they got their job and what do they do.  I also ask the class what professions they are interested in and try to get a speaker from that field to talk to the class about the requirements and responsibilities of the job.

This is a good time to move away from the textbooks and have the students get creative. Have them make a video or artwork that focuses on your unit. Let them explore the ways they can be creative and bring their ideas to you for approval. They may think of things that you haven’t thought about.

Sometimes, just a little change, can help bring the class out of the doldrums. It is a little break from the routine but well worth the time.

What do you do to bring your class out of the doldrums? Please share.

Photo by Maria Teneva on Unsplash

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