The sun is shining, the birds are chirping and your classroom windows are wide open to catch a hint of the pre-summer breeze blowing outside. The end of another school year is coming, bringing with it the bittersweet feeling of preparing to wave goodbye to another class of students.
And although you and the students are likely experiencing some burnout from an intense year of learning, there’s still time to engage, educate and collaborate before that final bell rings. It just takes a creative approach and some clever group activities!
Here are four ideas for wrapping up your school year on a high note:
Write Letters to Future Students
The end of the school year is a time for reflection. Your students undoubtedly have plenty of thoughts on what they cherished from this past school year—not to mention what they would do differently if they could travel back in time.
Until time machines are commonplace pieces of technology, there’s no way to re-live the past. But your students can help the next class of kids make the most of their school year! After all, they’ll sit in the same desks, study the same subjects and hit the same developmental milestones.
Ask your outgoing students to write a letter to next year’s class. As one high school math teacher notes, you’ll usually get a blend of funny and serious advice. Then it’s up to you to print these “Dear Future Student…” letters out and distribute them in the fall. It’s sure to be a learning experience for everyone involved!
Create Visual Reflections
There’s something cathartic and resolute about creating something as a class. But with only a few weeks or days to go on the school calendar, you don’t want to waste supplies to mark up the walls only to have to clean it all up soon after. How can you create a tribute to everyone’s end-of-the-year feelings without the physical mess?
Using a word cloud maker allows every member of your class to contribute how they’re feeling at a given moment in time. The process is exciting; as the answers roll in, the cloud moves in real time to accommodate the growing ideas. And at the end, you’ll have a visual snapshot of all the different personalities, thoughts and feelings that make up each unique class. You can even screenshot it and keep a copy for your memory book!
Host a Mini Award Show
You want each of your kids to carry forward the knowledge that they’re loved, appreciated and recognized for what makes them unique. What better way to convey this positivity than by hosting an award show where you honor each student individually for their best or most memorable qualities?
One teacher recommends giving “a special award or prize for each student, linked to a habit, strength or funny story.” Of course, if your budget can’t quite stretch to cover a prize for every student, you can always present certificates that focus more on recognition. You’ll have an afternoon full of laughter, positivity and maybe even some tears if you take the time to call out something noteworthy about each student.
Let Students Be Teachers
There’s an inverse correlation between the approaching last day of school and how well students can pay attention to lectures. The last month or so is the perfect time to rely on different teaching methods—or even assign your students the task of researching a topic and teaching it to the class.
By asking the class to work in small groups, you’ll tap into that talkative impulse that rears its head as the weather gets nicer (and help students work on their delegation and communication skills). The students can also design a review activity for the class to go with their presentation.
The end of the school year is often hectic, but these four ideas will help you carve out the time to make lasting memories and wrap things up on a high note. There is still plenty of time to strengthen your classroom community and get the most out of your curriculum!