Three Ways to Keep Your Sanity Throughout the Holidays in a Middle School Classroom

spreading comfort and joy in a middle school classroom

        This year I teamed up with a group of secondary teachers to bring you fresh ideas on how to bring “comfort and joy” into your classrooms this holiday season in the Twelve Days of December Blog Hop.

Comfort and joy in a December classroom might sound like an oxymoron. However, there are many ways that you can keep your sanity this holiday season while keeping students engaged and motivated. 

Here are a few ways that work for me:

#1: Independent Reading Calendars: Have students work on their comprehension skills with these choice calendars. Students can choose which assignments they would like to complete. Normally I assign these for homework, but they also work in the classroom. Students can read fiction or nonfiction assignments and demonstrate their knowledge. I find giving students choice really helps to keep them engaged and motivated. You can read more about it and access a freebie by clicking here!

independent choice reading activities

#2: Kindness Quotes: Like everyone else, I absolutely loved the book, Wonder. An offshoot of this wonderful story is 365 Days of Wonder. This is based upon Mr. Brown’s precepts. There is a quote for every day of the year. In addition to the quotes, Mr. Brown has a story at the end of each month. I found it just as inspiring as Wonder and my students absolutely love to read the quote of the day. 

Check out my affiliate link for the book that I use. 

You might also be interested in these beautiful quote banners that include inspirational quotes for new beginnings. Perfect for the New Year. 
New Year's quotes to celebrate a new beginning

#3: Humane Heroes: One year, many years ago before Common Core, I had the opportunity to develop a service learning project with a special group of seventh and eighth graders. Many of you may know that animals are near and dear to my heart, especially dogs. Samson is a pitbull and many shelters are filled with these big lovable oafs. The project that I developed revolved around the animal shelters and military working dogs.

We first read Cracker: The Best Dog in Vietnam. This book anchored the project. I also brought in a slew of picture books and developed writing assignments based on the theme of each story. In addition to the academics, students held bake sales that included treats for our four-legged friends, decorated bandannas to help shelter animals get adopted, visited several animal shelters and wrote letters to their legislators in support of stronger laws to protect animals.

While it can be daunting to create an entire unit, doing a small act can create a ripple effect. I find that animals are something that all children of any age love, so this was a good motivator for me but maybe there is something that interests your students more, go with it. Regarding their writing on assignments, I got some of the best pieces ever from those students. Making writing authentic and meaningful will give students a purpose for their writing.

keep calm and carry on this holiday season in the secondary classroom

Don't forget to enter the giveaway. There are some really great prizes for you to win this holiday season. Win a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card, $75 gift card to Target, $100 to TpT or $200 to Amazon. Enter through the rafflecopter below. 
Secondary sellers blog hop giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. So smart to give students choice assignments with their independent reading. Thanks for the freebie!

  2. No problem! I have found that giving my students a choice has increased the amount of assignments that are completed.

  3. Authentic and meaningful - this sums it up!! It sounds like your students had so much fun with this unit while focused on a topic and activities that had direct application and meaning.

  4. Love Mr. Browne's precepts! I use them in my classroom all the time.


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