One of the more frustrating things that happens, in the spring usually, is that some students will take a vacation that does not coincide with the district spring break. As a teacher, you’re left scrambling to figure out what to do with that student. Do you give them work to complete while they are on vacation? Do you wait until they get back and try to play “catch-up?” It’s tricky. It gets even trickier with the older students. Our family recently took a vacation to Washington DC. The only time we could go was outside our kids spring break. After getting over the thought we were doing what I had hated as a teacher, we asked the kids teachers for any work they might feel comfortable giving to our kids for while they were gone. What we got back was a great assignment and something I thought worked very well.
First, I should say that I have little ones (2 first graders and a kindergartner). Their teachers put together a pre-stapled booklet that had empty pages inside. The assignment for our kids was to keep a journal of their trip. Each day they were to draw a picture of a memorable sight, write a sentence about it, and collect any tactile item (metro receipt, cherry blossom, etc) that went along with that page. Our kids had fun putting their journal together and they worked on some great skills while doing it. They were analyzing, writing, compiling information, summarizing, sequencing, illustrating….all great thinking skills. There were a couple of standard worksheets that the teachers kicked in, but the main emphasis was on the journal. I also love the fact that long after this assignment is finished, my kids will still be able to remember their trip to Washington…especially when they saw a presidential motorcade go by! (True).
Now, as a techie….I’m always on the search for a great app or tech tool that could be utilized too. One that I use that would do everthing but pasting in the cherry blossoms my daughter wanted is an app called Trip Journal. This app allows users to create a trip journal with images, notes, and coordinates of places you visit. Since it lives on your mobile device (Apple, Google), you have it with you all the time. I could see older students taking advantage of this app. It allows users to share their journal electronically through email and facebook.
What ideas do you have or do you use when students are gone from class on vacation?