The Winter Breakthrough

Andy Bishop

We’ve all been through it before. We spend months teaching our students mathematical content and over time, we start to see them making progress. And then all of a sudden winter break sneaks up, seemingly out of nowhere. And when our students return two weeks later, we find it’s stressful to review concepts that we thought were secure, especially knowing that there’s new content to cover. 

This is where flexible use of Home Connections comes in. I’ve learned from speaking with teachers in different districts that the use of the Home Connections varies. Some use this resource intermittently in class, and some don’t use it at all.

The great thing about Home Connections is that it coincides with what you’re already teaching your students in class. For example, in grade 4 Unit 3, Module 3, Session 2, there’s an opportunity for students to practice and further their understanding of comparing fractions and decimals.

I assign certain pages to my students during breaks to work on what they’ve been learning in class. But I don’t frame it as “homework.” I call them “mini math projects,” and for some reason that entices them to actually bring the work back completed!

The mini math project gives students an opportunity to work together with family members and friends.

And using Home Connections during breaks provides some meaningful practice that will keep intact their knowledge about topics we’ve recently covered, and likewise, keep their confidence bolstered. Challenge your students to create a project they’re interested in doing with their family, and invite them to share their work with the class when you transition back. 

I also have students come up with ideas for projects that everyone can do over break. The one that gets the most student votes becomes the project they will work on. For example, the project my students will be doing over this winter break is finding different things in nature and recording their specific lengths in fractions. They will then bring those items and measurements back to school when they return to present to the class. Doing projects like these, along with Home Connections, helps to make the math applicable to them, and fun! 

Andy Bishop is a grade 4 Bridges teacher and MLC blog author