When it comes to rounding out the school year, a teacher has a choice to make. They can either drag their rightfully tired selves across the finish line worn and weary, OR go out with a mighty bang. If you would like to be the teacher who digs deep, finds his or her energy reserves and goes out on a high note, this post is for you. Below are some activities you can use at the end of the year to review concepts, celebrate students, and reflect on your year. You’ve made it this far, why not finish the year with a little bit of positivity.
Here’s to finishing strong!
Who doesn’t love to be recognized? It’s safe to say that most everyone wants to be seen, heard and valued, and students are no different. Try hosting an awards ceremony that is sure to end the year on a high note. Whether you do it Oscar style or choose to keep it simple; as long as you have fun with it, everyone will leave smiling. I have created a massive bundle of awards that will recognize and celebrate each student’s individuality.
You can also grab each of the individual award sets listed below.
Students are always being marked, assessed and evaluated. It is how teachers identify strengths and challenges, areas in need of improvement, and ultimately ensure that those under their care are learning and growing. However, why not flip the script on occasion by putting the power in the students’ hands. It’s important to have them thoughtfully reflect on their own learning and behaviour and evaluate a course. It will allow them to feel valued, and you can also use their feedback to inform your instruction. My Free End of Year or Semester Course Evaluation is designed to achieve this. I always used it at the end of every course I taught, as it can be used for any subject area.
They might not openly admit it—although often they will—but students love self-reflective, thoughtful activities. When time in the classroom is spent creating something meaningful like an End of the Year Memory Booklet or an End of the Year Memory Wheel, it encourages students to consider various aspects of their personal lives, development and year; and what could middle school students possibly love more than thinking about their own lives? By having students reflect on things like how they have changed, their best moments, personal connections, and favourite things. It will but it will give them a keepsake that they can look back on in the future.
One fun way to review content covered in a course is to give students a passport and send them on a trip around the classroom with an End of the Year Passport Activity. The way it works is students get their own personal passport and ‘travel’ to different stations in the room to complete tasks related to the course content. Once completed, they pass it on to the teacher for it to be stamped or signed, and then move onto the next station. It’s a creative and fun educational activity that allows students to demonstrate what they learned in different ways and reflect on their behaviour and performance in class.
With nearly every cellphone having a camera, students have now become regular photographers capturing their daily lives in photo form. Use this to your advantage at the end of the year by having students reflect on the photos they have taken. Have students choose three pictures from their cameras/phones taken during the year, and attach or illustrate the photo to a writing piece where they describe the photo and the memory it relates to. This is a fun exercise in descriptive writing and also gives students an opportunity to be creative by illustrating the photo themselves.
One of my favorite ways to end a school year is with team-building escape rooms. Students need to work together as a team and problem solve to complete tasks and puzzles related to the content you have taught them.
What student doesn’t want to end the year by saving their teacher from a zombie virus? My favorite escape room has students watch a short video where they learn that their teacher has been infected by a zombie virus. They find a book in the library on zombies, but the page with the antidote has been torn out. Together, they must work to solve riddles and puzzles related to ELA concepts.
Once they are solved, students find the ingredients to an antidote to save their teacher! Students tend to get excited about this activity—one student even called it: “Anxiety producing in the best possible way!” and teachers love it too! Some have taken it to the next level by dressing up like zombies, creating viles of different substances, and even hiding in closets for the duration of the activity.
Special request: If you are brave enough to dress up like a zombie, don’t forget to take a picture and send it to me! That would 100% make my day.
If we could go back to speak to ourselves in the past, there is probably lots of advice we would give to our former self. Give your current students this opportunity by having them write a letter to students who will be coming to this class in the next year What advice would they give students to help them be successful in this course? What things should they look forward to? What mistakes did they make that they wish they could go back and fix?
This is a super practical and useful exercise because you are able to share them with your class the following year! This kills two birds with one stone because it gives you a lesson to do at the end of the year as well as one to do once back to school arrives.
It’s important to make time to have some fun at the end of the year while also reviewing and reflecting on the content that students learned. Taking the time to do this will also allow you to reflect on your own teaching practices and make adjustments and improvements for the new school year ahead.
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