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    motivating them
    By Katy

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    I use vacations as a way to bump up the expectations...raise the bar. I start off by telling the class the good things that they have done up until this point of the year and then let them know that we have a lot more things to learn and I think they are ready to do even more than they've been doing.I know how this might sound, but my class really responded to it. Hearing that they were smart enough and ready to do harder work made them feel good and motivated them to push themselves. Whenever I saw children doing work that was higher quality than before I praised them for it and shared pieces with the whole class. That made others who weren't as invested get down to business. It's always worked for me when I remember to focus more on the few that are doing things the way I want than to try to get frustrated with the rest.
    I also try to introduce some new activities so children aren't bored with the same old routine. We maintain our structure but add in the new activities. My kids loved doing Digging through the Dictionary. They have a sheet of 40 words. Each time they work with a partner to look up a word in the dictionary, record the word, page it was found on, guide words, definition, and then write a sentence using the word. We use words that relate to our curriculum such as kabuki. (since we study Japan) I told them after we first did it that I would be looking to see if anyone used the dictionary during reading or writing workshop. They did...a lot. To vary our writing, kids made seasonal flipbooks. You fold a piece of 11"17" paper the long way and divide it in fourths. You cut the top part and glue 4 little pieces of paper (a box with lines in it)on the bottom part. Children draw a picture of each season and write complete sentences to tell what people do during that season. When it's all done, you flip the picture up and see the writing underneath. I had my children do their sloppy copies first (write and sketch their pictures), then revise and edit, (fix it up and fancy it up)and then copy their writing over in their best handwriting and do their best illustrations. They had so much fun doing them because it was not the same writing they had been doing during the fall.
    Hope something from this is helpful.
    Good luck and Happy New Year!
    Katy


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