Getting back into the swing of things after winter break can be daunting for both you and your middle or high school ELA students. One way to ease back into a classroom routine is by incorporating some fun New Year ELA activities that encourage reflection, review, and setting student goals. Here are some ELA New Year lesson plan ideas that will up the engagement and enjoyment of your first day back while setting the tone for the rest of the school year.
Use a Disco Ball Timer for Your New Year ELA Activities
Who says timers have to be boring? Create a fun and engaging atmosphere in your classroom by using a disco ball-themed timer for class periods and activities. Get the students excited for class by playing some upbeat music and having a fun timer countdown for review questions, writing prompts, or other classroom activities. They’ll love seeing the disco ball light twirl and spin while they work.
Give New Year Prompts as an ELA Bellringer
As I noted in this post, I’m a huge fan of using attendance questions to start the class. My favorite one to use on the first day back from winter break is: “Have you set any New Year resolutions or are you fabulous already?” This always brings a (reluctant) smile from students and starts the day on a funny note.
If you use journaling as a bellringer, you can also add a New Year spin to your prompts. Provide a variety of prompts that encourage them to consider the past year, their successes, and goals for the future. Introduce the activity as you usually would with a typical bell ringer activity, but use this opportunity to focus on the new year and the journey ahead. Here are some New Year journal prompts:
- Reflect on a hobby or activity that brings you joy and how you can incorporate it more into your routine in the new year.
- List five people who inspire you, the qualities you admire in each of them, and how they’ll motivate you in the new year.
- Reflect on a significant lesson you learned in the past year and how it will shape your new year.
Set up New Year Stations to Review ELA Skills and Set Student Goals
Part review, part goal-setting, complete engagement– stations on a first day in ELA are always a good idea! Just like with my favorite August first day of school activities, setting up stations on the first day back from winter break is the best way to ease back into learning! As an English teacher, you’ll appreciate not having to be “on,” and your ELA students will appreciate the fun New Year activities and the opportunity to chat with friends. Above is a peek at the record sheet students fill out as they travel around the stations. This New Year resource is designed to help you sneak in a little ELA review while students are reflecting on the past and planning for the future.
Here are a few station ideas that come with these New Year ELA activities:
- Station 3 – Watch a short TED-Ed video about learning from mistakes, then predict what word you’ll need to focus on in the new year.
- Station 2 – Reflect on imagery memories from the past year and dream of new ones you’d like to have in the new year.
- Station 1 – Think of the theme of the past year and write a thematic statement. Then, brainstorm books that speak to the Book Theme BINGO board.
As you can see, you may consider putting a fun twist on these New Year ELA stations by having students rotate through them backward, like counting down to the New Year. 🙂 I have seven editable stations in this pack, so 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, Happy ELA NEW YEAR!!!
Host a New Year, New Book Raffle
Books raffles are a great way to build excitement for independent reading. There’s no better way to kick off the new year than with a new (to you) book! Simply display books, talk them up, and then let students enter to win a chance to be the first person to check them out in the new year. Bonus points if you use plastic champagne cups to hold the entries and hand out New Year themed bookmarks! Download some cute ones for free here:
Create Vision Mood Boards
If you are using Canva for Edu, then having students create a vision board for the new year is a great way to incorporate tech skills plus ELA skills. Have students think about color connotation and word choice as they design phone backgrounds or device screensavers. Canva has a ton of vision board templates to get them started!
By incorporating creative and engaging activities like these on the first day back to school after winter break, you can help your students ease back into the classroom mindset while still keeping them energized and motivated. Each activity offers a unique approach to reviewing and reflecting on past progress and setting goals for the future. Download them to kick off a successful and energized new year.