By Teachers, For Teachers
As the end of the year begins to settle down, you may notice that students start to become a little more restless. This can make for quite a hard time to keep students motivated and engaged in your lessons. However, it doesn’t have to be hard. All you have to do is figure out what to do with all of that end-of-year energy and turn it into something constructive that will keep them motivated.
Here are ten effective teaching strategies to help make the end of the school year a success.
One of the best teaching strategies to get your students writing is to have them write letters of advice to the students that will be entering your classroom the following year. As a class, brainstorm specific areas and topics that the new students would benefit from hearing about (academics, advice, etc.). Then, have each student write a letter that is divided into paragraphs with the specific areas that you chose. Have students peer-edit the letters and type their final copies. The last step is for students to decorate the outside envelopes. Finally, save the letters for the students that come in next fall. Or, if you are so lucky to have a meet-and-greet with your new fall students before the year comes to an end, you can give the letters to them then.
Many teachers use Fun Friday as a classroom management tool throughout the school year. However, if you do not use this teaching strategy, then the end of the year is the perfect time to start. The concept of Fun Friday is easy. In order for students to participate, they must comply with all of their teachers’ demands all week long. If they do, then they are able to have a few hours of fun on Friday. On this day, students are able to bring in any game or outside (appropriate) thing to play with in the classroom. This can be anything from a toy, Pokémon cards, or an IPod, to a handheld Gameboy or tablet. Sometimes, teachers work together and combine their classrooms for this event. This is an even bigger motivator for students when they know that they will be able to see more of their friends. For the students who are unable to participate, they must go to another classroom to complete any unfinished work or read a book.
Team challenges motivate students to work together to complete a common goal. You can find activities that students will love, such as creating a tower out of pasta or a water rocket out of a soda bottle on the Sciencenc.com website. These activities are great end-of-year motivators because they are fun and a lot of the time students must go outdoors to complete them.
A fun and creative way to wrap up the school year is to have students create a classroom yearbook. While many schools already have a school yearbook, a class yearbook is far more personal because the students will have created it. All you have to do to make one is to have each student create one page (front and back). On this page they can write, draw, add pictures, or decorate it as they wish as long as they have their name on it in big letters and a picture of themselves. Once all of the students have completed their page, you can color photocopy all the pages and have each student gather all of the pages and put together their own yearbook. You can use the original pages to create your own teacher copy of the class yearbook. It’s a tangible keepsake that students will cherish forever.
A favorite end-of-year project to do with your students is to create a digital classroom newsletter. Start by brainstorming all of the special moments and events that students have partaken in during the whole school year. Then, select a few students to serve as the editor of the newsletter, a few to be the writers, a few more to be the photographers. The editors will edit the writers’ stories and compile them into the newsletter, while the photographers will take pictures or gather pictures taken from throughout the year and decide which ones will be in the newsletter. You can even assign specific students to scan in any awards, accomplishments or artwork from students in the class as well. When completed, you can e-mail the newsletter to all of the parents, as well as the school. Be sure to print out a few to keep in your classroom or for the parents who are tech savvy.
These five hands-on strategies will make wrapping up the school year fun. Furthermore, it will allow students time to celebrate and create and share wonderful memories and keepsakes that will be able to cherish for a lifetime.
How do you wrap up the end of the school year in a fun and creative way? Do you have any ideas that you would like to share with us? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below, we would love to hear your ideas.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds a Master's of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com, as well as a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com and TeachHUB Magazine. You can follow her at Twitter @Empoweringk6ed, or on Facebook at Empowering K6 Educators.