School break strategy: Keep students learning during holiday breaks

As a teacher, I often found myself playing catch-up with students after returning to school from a holiday break, and having to review the last few lessons I taught prior to break. In a world where pacing guides have very few flex days, time is precious and must be used strategically. But the good news is, there are ways to motivate students to keep practicing while they’re away, so they return to school ready to continue with new material! 

Here’s one strategy to motivate students to keep up the learning during a holiday break:

  1. Announce the class goal and incentive

Let students know that they will work together as a class to achieve a goal: answering an average of ___ questions per student in one week. If students meet that collective goal, they’ll earn a reward! 

We recommend 30 questions per student as a good starting point, but that can be adjusted up or down depending on how much you’re using IXL on a regular basis! You can have students practice skills from their Recommendations Wall, skills that you assign, or skills of their choice— it’s up to you!  

Get creative with the reward—here are some free and low-cost ideas to get you started:


  1. Show students how you’ll check their progress

On your Analytics Dashboard, scroll down to the Student Learning Activity graph, click on “Week by Week”  and project this onto your board.

Explain to students that this shows, on average, how many questions are answered per student in one week. Hover over a few of the bars to highlight the class data. Explain the goal line. (Tip: Hover over the word “Goal” and it provides an explanation!) Tell students that on the day you all return from break, you will immediately pull up this graph to see if the class has reached the goal line.

This is also a great opportunity to explain that the practice of each student contributes to the success of the class as a whole. On this same graph, you can click on “This week” and hover over a few individual students to demonstrate this concept and even celebrate students who have high amounts of practice for the current week.


  1. Show off the data!

The day you return from break, schedule 5-10 minutes in your lesson to project and review the Student Learning Activity graph. If the class met the goal, move forward with rewarding students!  

If the class did not meet the goal, encourage them to strive for it during the next break. You can also consider going to the Students Quickview report, changing the date range to the dates of the break and then celebrating individuals who practiced the most. Though the class as a whole did not meet the goal, it is important to make those who did practice feel seen and valued!


Want more ideas? Check out these resources for more strategies to keep students engaged over school breaks or during snow days!

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