Dangler Days or What to do when half your students are out?

With the holiday season just around the corner, and PARCC testing looming in the distance, my colleagues and I have had much discussion recently on –  what I have affectionately come to call – dangler days.  Days that you’re not to sure how to handle – they just dangle there, and you’re left to figure out whether to attach them to a lesson or a unit, or just hit play on the newest Pixar blockbuster.

This includes those last-minute delayed-opening/early-dismissal/snow days, those days when half of your students are out on a band field trip, those freakishly odd weeks when you only see your students for two days, and the dreaded testing days when your students are mentally exhausted and daydreaming of a utopian world without multiple-choice questions. You can’t possibly move on with instruction because then you’d have to catch up the other half of your students before school, after school, or during recess – which would be a ridiculously inefficient waste of time for everyone. So what are you to do?

Fear not fellow educomrades! I’ve compiled a list of activities you can utilize that will allow the students who are present to simply have more practice with concepts and skills they are already familiar with (and quite possibly have some fun while doing it).

Reader’s Theater

My students absolutely LOVE having the chance to shine in the spotlight and having a role to play.  Unfortunately, I rarely have time for reader’s theater in my 6th grade ELA classroom.  There is just too much “stuff” we have to get through in time for state testing and my students need all the practice and feedback they can get.  So, when we do have a random dangler day or two, I love slowing down to perform some reader’s theater.  This can work for ELA as well as History/Social Studies classes. Below, you’ll find a list of links with resources for reader’s theater scripts.  They range from short 3 minute scenes from movies (A Christmas Story) to full-length plays (A Christmas Carol) and even historical fiction/historical reenactments.  Reader’s theater can help students with skills such as fluency, intonation, visualizing, identifying character traits, and can lead to a deeper understanding and connection with a text.

Resources:

1. ReadWriteThink 

2. Reader’s Theater Scripts 

3. Busy Teacher’s Cafe: Reader’s Theater 

4. Aaron Shepard’s Reader’s Theater Editions

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