It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over
As we watch the playoffs in my house, I am always impressed with the effort the losing team gives all the way up until the last second. Even if they are down by 10 points, it appears that they are hopeful, and so they persevere. Time-outs are called, they huddle, and the coach gives a play, a strategy… a last ditch effort to win the game…
You don’t have to love basketball to understand my analogy. As teachers, it is not over, until it’s over. The same effort I see when I watch athletes in the final seconds of a game, is the same effort I tried to exert at the end of each school year. I know how taxing it can be to make it through an entire school year and cap it off with standardized testing. Whew! It is exxhauuusting! But we must take a few things into consideration:
- Learning is never-ending: As learners, we can all learn new things and polish skills we have.
- Develop the whole child: Children deserve to understand all of the opportunities available to them, not just the ones their demographic dictates as possible. Introducing fun, new things at the end of the year can kindle a fire you may never see. But remember, it isn’t about you.
- Personalization: This word is buzzing around all over the education world right now, and for good reason. Personalization may feel challenging at first, but the end of the year is a great time to give it a try. Then, ask your students for feedback. Take that information and use it next year. You never know, it may be easier than you think.
- Student-Choice: Allow students to choose activities that interest them. Learning is so much better when we like how we are learning.
- Data: What does your data tell you? Where were your students struggling this year? How can you incorporate some of those skills at the end of this year so that next year their achievement gap is not as wide?
Well, considering all of the aforementioned, here are some things you can do:
- Task Cards – At the secondary level, I rarely see these used, but in elementary, they are all the rave! With these, you can hit student-choice and personalization. Allow students to choose the skill they want to practice, the task, etc. Give them a certain amount of tasks to complete within a certain time-frame (dear God, don’t forget to give them a time-frame🙄), and leave them alone.
- Be creative – Take your students on a writing journey. You can make it a collective activity, or give them choice (again with the student-choice). Here are a few examples:
- Write reviews. Review everything – television shows, meals, movies, shoes, clothes. The sky is the limit. Whenever I had students write reviews, I was always impressed with what they observed.
- People watch, and write about it. Take a trip around the building… around the grounds for that matter. Have students write down notes as they walk. Then, come back to the classroom and discuss it. Write about it..
- Interview people. As a class, come up with different categories – school events, seniors going off to college, first year teachers… anything. Give them criteria and set them free.
- Take them to a far away place. How exciting is that?! When I was in the classroom, many, if not most, of my students had not been outside of the immediate area. Taking them on adventures through reading and writing is two-fold. They are still learning, but they are having fun. Choose a country and read their news, learn about their culture, and find literature from, or about, their culture.
Now go off and be great! It’s almost over 🙂
Alice WebbMay 4, 2017 at 11:10 am
The end of the school year is always a challenge for me because I teach a state standard testing class and by the end of testing both the students and myself are spent. I usually give an end of the year group project for the students to complete to continue the learning environment while also giving students to work together to lessen the load. However, I like the suggestions offered in this blog because the options are student centered, sometimes the projects are given so that I can de-stress, the tasks are simple yet engaging and I’m all for closing the achievement gap. Thanks for this timely and insightful post about end of the school year incentives and encouragement.