Getting through the last few weeks of the school year can be a challenge for teachers and students. A proactive approach can help you keep students engaged and productive to the end while promoting a spirit of celebration and accomplishment. Use these six tips to award and encourage students’ hard work as they prepare to go onto the next grade level or graduation.
1. A Collection of Notes
Build self-esteem by having each student write a sentence about the strengths of their classmates. If you have 30 students, provide each one with 30 wallet-sized pieces of paper or index cards. Instruct students to write a positive sentence about each classmate. Avoid statements that pertain to physical appearance. Younger students may benefit from a list of words to prompt their thinking, such as “helpful”, “kind”, “friendly”.
2. Go on a Learning Scavenger Hunt
Send small groups of two to four on a scavenger hunt within the classroom to find certain items and bits of information pertaining to what they’ve learned throughout the year. Allow them to use textbooks and other available resources to answer scavenger hunt questions.
3. Character Awards
Most schools hold year-end award ceremonies to recognize student achievement. Within your classroom you can have a character award ceremony to recognize each student for kindness, community spirit, respect and other behavior-focused accomplishments.
4. Look Toward the Future
Kindergarten through high school students can all pause to consider the future and what they envision it to be. Have younger children draw pictures of what they want to be or how they want to contribute to the world. Older children can write an essay or prepare a presentation that also includes steps on how to get there.
5. Creative Outlet
Reflecting on the year that’s nearly over is a great way to celebrate it and learn. Use various creative venues, such as paint, poetry, drawings or music, to allow students to summarize the highs and lows of the school year. Give them the option of performing in front of the class or just turning their creative work into you.
6. Give Students Ownership
One of the most effective ways to keep students engaged is to hand the reins over to them. Explain the outcome you wish to achieve, and let them brainstorm ways in which to celebrate. Incorporate as many ideas as you can in your final weeks’ lesson plans.
A strong finish at the end of the school year sets the stage for a good start when the new year or next adventure begins. Help students focus on and feel proud of their accomplishments with the ideas above. You’ll keep them engaged and learning until the last day, even if they think they’re only having fun. Are there activities you use to celebrate the end of the year and keep students focused? We’d love to have you share them here.