Reflection: Lesson Plans for the End of the School Year
Summer is right around the corner, and in a perfect world, your classroom is humming along like a well-oiled machine with students trained in classroom routines and expectations. Truth is: the end of the year can be challenging for staff and students alike. With end-of-year testing, constantly changing schedules, and trying to keep a lid on students who are anxious to get outside and enjoy the beautiful weather, it can be difficult to fill in the gaps with engaging activities during the last couple of weeks at school. Use your VariQuest tools to support some interesting and meaningful end of year activities in your classroom.
Each school year is filled with its own unique ups and downs. Help students create lasting memories of the year by inviting them to journal about their experiences this school year. Some ideas about prompts include…
- What was your best learning experience and what made it so great?
- Write a short description of the funniest moment in the classroom.
- What was the best read-aloud? Include a short summary of the book (including the best part!!).
- What was your favorite unit in gym and why?
- Describe the wildest costume on dress up day.
- What was the best song performed at a concert? What emotions did you feel during the performance?
- Create a hashtag to describe the year and explain it.
- How might you apply one thing you learned this year in the future?
Consider having a short whole-class brainstorm session to help students remember highlights from the year before giving them time to respond to each prompt individually.
Make the journals extra-special by creating a customized journal for each student using Shape Book Cutouts such as Sun Book Cover: BKS069 and Sun Book Page 1: BKS070 or Watermelon Book Cover: BKS086 and Watermelon Book Page: BKS087.
You may use a reflection journal as a centering activity for students as they arrive in the morning, return to the room after lunch, or to help with transitions between subjects. Give students the option to draw in their journals - the idea is to engage even the most reluctant students in reflecting on the school year.
Personalized Promotion Celebration
I always like to bring some closure to the school year on that last day of school. We only have students for an hour or two that day so I like to hold an informal promotion ceremony.
Think of a positive quality about each student in your homeroom this year. Feel free to make these silly, or reference inside jokes you have from the school year. Some examples of honors might include: Most Dedicated Student, Greatest Lexicon, Most Insightful, Most Efficient Breakfast Runner, Greatest Hidden Talents, Most Bizarre Noisemaker (See? You really can think of something positive about ALL of your students!).
Use the Design Center software to customize Award Stickers such as Basic Award Plaque 7: PST013 or Award Plaque 15: AWD043 and attach to plaques to give to students. Alternatively, you can download and customize this document, then print awards on colored paper.
If you don’t already have one, take a class photo. You can even get creative by taking the picture on the school playground structure, in front of the school mascot, or having someone take a picture of the class standing in a formation from a second story window. Another option would be to create a photo collage from class experiences over the course of the year. The more creative and representative of your class’ personality the better. Just be sure that all students in your class are included in the photo collage.
Customize a Blank Layout template in the Design Center software using a flash drive to import the photo as a .jpg file. Edit the text boxes to read, “Class of 2017.” Print the poster-sized full color photograph using the Perfecta.
On the last day of school have a simple ceremony, calling each student up one at a time and telling them why you were grateful to have him or her in class this year. Then, have each student sign the poster by his or her picture. Display this poster in your room for students when they return to say hello after they have moved on.
However you decide to mark the end of another school year, make sure you take the time to enjoy it. Pretty soon “your kids” will no longer be yours, so appreciate these final days together!
Julia Cremin is a 6th grade Reading, Language Arts and Math teacher at O'Keeffe Middle School in Madison, WI. She is certified in Elementary Education (grades 1-9) with a minor in Mathematics.
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