This school year has been one for the history books, to say the least. If you’re reading this, you’re probably remarkably exhausted. Understandably so. Teachers have had the unique responsibility of leading classrooms of students through this difficult time. Still, here you are, going the extra mile to make the end of the year feel somewhat normal for them, even when it is anything but that. That’s because you know that this year has been hard for them, too. Together, you were forced to adapt in many ways; the shift to online teaching is just one of them. You and your students deserve to celebrate the fact that you made it through. Below, I’ve detailed 6 virtual ways to celebrate the end of the school year.
Each of these examples is easy to implement and is sure to bring some well-deserved joy to you and your students at the end of this challenging year.
A team-building activity is a great way to shine some light at the end of this difficult school year. Having your students consciously working together toward a common goal will serve to emphasize, in an entertaining way, that working together is what they’ve been doing all along. Collaboration has been especially important for everyone lately. Get the students collaborating in a light-hearted way!
THE CLASSROOM FLOOR IS LAVA!
My favorite way to do this is with an end of the year digital escape room. It always entertains my students while fostering a sense of community in the classroom.
For this activity, the classroom floor is lava—the virtual classroom floor, that is. Your students will need to work together to solve the challenges necessary to escape the lava-filled class, as depicted in the accompanying hand-drawn video.
This is an especially fitting activity for the English classroom, as it incorporates some ELA skills (spelling, homophones, capitalization), but it can also work for any other classroom!
If you’re interested, you can see how it works below. Or you can continue onto the next idea: hosting an online awards ceremony!
A great way to celebrate the end of the year is to actually celebrate the students themselves by giving them each a personalized award! Holding an online awards ceremony gives you the opportunity to show your students the special place they hold in your classroom community.
You can organize your virtual awards ceremony in a variety of ways. You may want to send out invites, for example, or assign a funny dress code. Maybe you can have a guest speaker talk virtually to the class!
Regardless of how you decide to proceed with the awards ceremony itself, your students will be thrilled to get personal recognition from you in the form of an award.
End of the year awards can serve as a solid foundation for your award ceremony. Awards can also be easily shared in an online context. I explain how you can do that here. Use the links below to browse some of my favorite student award sets.
Another way to celebrate the end of the school year is with some simple virtual games! I’ve put together a few ideas of games that will work particularly well in a virtual context.
TWO TRUTHS AND A LIE
This is a game that requires zero preparation on your behalf. Go around the virtual classroom and have the students take turns giving three statements about themselves. Two of these statements must be true, but one of them has to be a lie. The other students have to guess which statement they think is the lie. Encourage the students to be strategic about their three statements accordingly!
Depending on your class size and resources, you can have the students respond aloud or in the chat feature.
CHARADES OR PICTIONARY
While looking for other easy-to-implement games like the one described above, I found this helpful video that explains how to play charades and Pictionary over Zoom:
Although this video explains how to play the games in Zoom specifically, it’s applicable to other video communications app too. How you want to make use of the video communication features is up to you. Maybe you’ll have the students simply draw by hand, for example.
You may or may not have heard of this one before. Kahoot! is a game-based learning platform through which you can easily create—or choose from existing—games and trivia quizzes (kahoots) to play with your virtual classroom.
They have an incredible amount of content for every subject you can think of. But let’s say you want to play pre-existing games specific to English Language Arts made specifically for grades 4-7. You can do that. Or, let’s say you want to create your own quiz specific to your class. You can do that too!
Another idea is to send cards to your students. A card is a meaningful, sentimental keepsake for the students to cherish long after this difficult school year is over. Sending cards with personalized messages written inside is a small gesture that can have a huge impact on the students receiving them.
I like to use ready-to-print cards to show the students I care about them. These cards are all humorous (and cheesy) puns. Simply print and fold the cards. Inside is where you can write your sincere note to the students. You can write to them about the particular ways they were resilient during this memorable year!
Instead of sending a card, you may want to send a personalized video to each of your students. To some of you, this task seems daunting. I get that, trust me. I can picture myself doing a bunch of takes on my phone camera, feeling increasingly awkward about each try. Here’s a tip:
Loom is a video messaging tool that makes recording and sharing videos easy. I love it! I find it’s a great alternative to sending long emails. You can use it on your computer to record your audio, video, and desktop simultaneously, then it creates a simple link that you can share with your students where they can watch.
Something about Loom puts me at ease when recording myself on video. Loom’s free option allows you to record up to 100 five-minute videos. Here’s a link to the website.
CREATE A COLLABORATIVE VIDEO
Another option is to create a collaborative end-of-the-year video with your students. Have the students send you pictures from the year and make a video slideshow for your class using iMovie or Moviemaker.
A digital memory book gets students to reflect on many different aspects of their school year such as thanking someone who had an impact on them in the year or discussing a new friend they made in the year, etc. These also make for fantastic final creative projects!
Celebrating the end of the school year feels especially important this time around. I hope these ideas help to make the end of this year particularly special for you and your students!
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