Sunday, April 24, 2016

End of Year Tips and Tricks

Most people love when the end of April rolls around.  Warmer weather (especially if you live in New England), longer days, and the thought that the summer months are almost here.  I am here to tell you that this is NOT what teachers think about at the end of April.
 Teachers, for the most part, have two conflicting views as the year starts to wind down:
  • Woo hoo!  We made it and the year is almost over.
  • Oh. My. God.  It's the end of April.  There isn't enough time to do everything we still need to do!


Those thoughts are a little like having two kids in the backseat on a road trip fighting for attention. Am I right?





I am so excited to share some of my favorite year ending tips!


Here are four of my favorite tips and tricks to end the school year.

1.  Try Something New
Yes, you read that correctly.  No, I am not crazy.  The students sitting in front of you are the perfect guinea pigs for a new idea.  The routines you worked so hard on in the beginning of the year are set in stone.  You can try a new activity or dabble with a new way of teaching a concept without the worry of teaching routines at the same time.  I am doing this in my classroom right now.  Possible ideas for my next professional goal for our teacher evaluation system have been rattling around in my brain for months.  Using Genius Hour as a part of my Writer's Workshop is in the top spot (for now). So, I decided to play around with it for the last few month's of the school year to see if it could work. If trying something big makes you uncomfortable start with something small.  Recently I created a new writing activity called Scrambled Stories.  It uses story starters, but there's a twist.  Each student begins a story, but only writes for ten minutes.  When the timer goes off everyone rotates, reads the story, and picks up writing where the last person left off.  You can download it for free by clicking here.

2.  Let Students Teach
Give your students a chance to be the teacher.  This is highly motivating and can be done in many different ways.  One way to approach this is to have partners become "experts" and prepare lessons on concepts that you want to review.  This approach works best when the partners are chosen by the teacher.  I also assign the content to the team.  I strategically assign content to make sure that each pair has to do some review before preparing the lesson.  I want them to learn something from the activity, too.  Another way to do this is to allow students to prepare a lesson and/or activity on something that interests them.  Students love to share outside interests and I am always amazed by the things I learn.  Make sure to check and approve any student-created lessons before the presentations!

3.  Organize with Purpose
I start cleaning and organizing my classroom at this point in the year.  That doesn't mean that I take down all of my anchor charts and put away the manipulatives!  I start the organizing process by weeding out the things I want to keep for next year and getting rid of the things that I don't.  I start to box up items in clear containers that I won't be using for the remainder of the year.  Clear containers are THE BEST way to organize because you can see what is inside.  I love the way they stack and you can find them with lids in lots of colors.  At this point I also organize the things I don't want to keep into two areas:  Toss and Raffle.  The toss pile are things that I can recycle, donate, or toss.  The raffle pile is special.  Things in this pile are used to raffle off to students at the end of the year.  They love "winning" things!  I raffle off extra supplies that I won't use, extra stickers, well-loved books that won't survive another year in my classroom library, and anything else that crops up that I won't use and don't have the heart to throw away.

4.  End of Year & Beginning of Year Bulletin Board Idea 
Here's an easy way to end the year with a bulletin board ready for September.  Have each student write a book review for the best book they read this year.  I have my students type the book reviews in a speech bubble.  I create the bulletin board by placing each speech bubble next to a photo of the student that wrote the book review.  At the end of the school year I cover the display with butcher paper.  The bulletin board is a great motivator in September for both avid and reluctant readers.

I hope you all have a stress-free end to the school year!  Thanks for reading!

7 comments:

  1. I love organize with purpose! I need to be more organized!!

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  2. Love the idea for a book review bulletin board!

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  3. The end of year/beginning of the year bulletin board sounds great! I definitely want to try that.

    Thank you for participating in the hop!

    Cait's Cool School

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  4. Thanks for the great ideas! Organizing with a purpose...this is what I really need to do!

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  5. Great post! Thanks for sharing!

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  6. I really like the idea of having the students become the teacher/expert. Lots of research, speaking, and listening skills involved. I also love the bulletin board idea because that's one less item to worry about when heading back to school. Thanks for sharing.

    Sugar Cube Learning

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  7. Thanks to everyone that left a comment! I am off to check out the rest of the blogs.

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