5 More Ways to Engage Your Students in the New Year

5 More Ways to Engage Your Students in the New Year

Now that the New Year is upon us, it is time to reconnect with our students, engage them in authentic learning activities, and begin the second half of the school year on the right foot.

A couple of years ago, I wrote the first part of this blog post: 5 Ways to Engage Students in the New Year. And this blog post is an extension of that first list.

Here are five more ways to engage your middle school and high school students in the New Year.

1. Engage Students in a New Year’s Goal-Setting Activity

This digital goal-setting activity is a free download available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. While using this activity, students will set short-term and long-term academic and personal goals and think about different actionable steps to accomplish that goal. You can read more about how I plan on using this activity in last week’s blog post entitled, “A Goal-Setting and Reflection Activity for the Secondary Classroom.

5 More Ways to Engage Your Students in the New Year

2. Reflect on the Past Semester

Whether your first semester is finished or not, one way to engage students in the New Year and get them thinking about their academic progress in your class is to reflect on their prior activities, assignments, learning goals, and outcomes in your class. When I assigned a reflection paragraph to my students at the end of the semester, I learned so much more about them. It was definitely an opportunity to continue building classroom community.

You can read more about how I assigned a reflection paragraph to my students in this blog post entitled, “Semester End Reflection Assignment for Remote Learners.” Essentially, I kept it simple and informal. To help my students with the reflection process, I provided them with some guiding questions.

3. Classroom Community Bell Ringers

One way to continue building classroom community with your students is to start each class period with a Classroom Community Bell Ringer. Each bell-ringer activity includes a quote about community, love, acceptance, diversity, and an accompanying writing prompt to get students thinking. When I use these bell-ringers in my classroom, I provide my students with several minutes to briefly (and informally) respond to the prompt, and then I call on student volunteers to share their responses. In doing so, I open my classroom up to a classroom conversation about topics that matter.

If you’d like to download the free sample of these community bell ringers, click here!

4. Assign an Online Personality Test

Remember the days of taking online personality quizzes in magazines? Yes, I’m talking about before the Buzzfeed quizzes. Students are drawn to personality tests, and using a personality test to engage students in the New Year is a great way to start class. To get started, show the TED-Ed video “How Do Personality Tests Work.” You can even use some of the guided questions on the TED-Ed platform to guide your classroom discussion.

From there, assign a personality test. Whether you choose an online Meyers-Briggs or an Enneagram test, have students share their results collaboratively using Padlet or Jamboard.

5. Digital Growth Mindset Activities

Another great way to engage students at the start of the New Year is to focus on a growth mindset. With so many students setting new goals and resolutions, it is a great time to focus on mindset. While incorporating growth mindset in the classroom, it is essential to be mindful of each student’s unique situation and limitations and focus on what students can control.

These digital growth mindset activities include reflections, goal-setting activities, exit slips, and more!

5 More Ways to Engage Your Students in the New Year

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    One Comment

    • Thank you, Christina. I appreciate your hard work on these lessons – I needed some help with something more engaging for my Advisory 9th graders and this was perfect. I love that I can change your lessons to fit my class. Happy New Year to you and your family, and thank you again for all you share with us.
      Ann So


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