For many, June marks the homestretch of the school year. In the wake of district, state, and AP exams and with the anticipation of summer weather and relaxation on the horizon, distractions abound. We know it can feel overwhelming (and exhausting) to plan engaging and meaningful lessons as the school days wind down. And yet, we know that it is just as important to close out the year in a way that feels purposeful to your students as it is to foster brave and reflective classroom communities in the fall.
So, as we look toward the end of the school year, we are sharing some insights from members of our ELA Advisory Board on the tools and activities they use to help students slow down, reflect on what they’ve learned, and celebrate the community they cultivated over the course of the school year.
Jenni Aberli: When I was teaching, I had students reflect individually in journals and together in groups on what they read and learned. Then they would each write me a letter sharing their experiences in the class—what they liked about the structure, what they learned, what was most effective, what text/content they liked best, what I should keep doing, what I should stop doing, and what should change. This was a great opportunity for them to synthesize and reflect on the year in my class, and it provided constructive feedback for how I could improve the next year.
Jessica MacMartin: I have students complete a Portfolio Reflection where they choose 2-3 assignments or tasks that helped them academically and/or personally learn about themself or the world. I ask them to reflect on each and provide questions to prompt that reflection. Students can complete this assignment however they please: handwritten, typed in a document, or more creatively as a slide with images and links to assignments.
Jacqueline Rubino: To cap off their senior year, I assign a short project where seniors are asked to share their plans for the following year. They should discuss their college choice, career, or technical school plans. They are given a wide variety of choices including a slideshow, pieces of artwork, paper, letter, cartoon strip, video, or speech. They share their work with their class and it is an engaging way to look ahead to the future as well as showcase the skills they've learned throughout their time at the school.
Jon Sorokowski: My grade 8 students publish a Top Five list of their best middle school memories. Some students choose to work together and others alone. They enjoy reflecting on the highlights of their three years at our school as they head off on their next adventure.
Rebekah Ward: On the last day of class, we get in a circle and each student takes an opportunity to express gratitude for one of their peers until everyone has been appreciated. This is the final time for us to reflect on our values as a community (expressed in our classroom contract) and how we have grown during our time together.
Whether your students are graduating, transitioning from middle to high school, or moving to the next grade, taking time to mark this coming-of-age moment can feel validating and communicates that you recognize the importance of this time in their lives. For more activity ideas to help bring the school year to a close with care and intention check out our Activities to Connect and Celebrate at the End of the School Year mini-lesson from our Current Events in the Classroom collection or the menu of engaging options listed under Activity 69 in our guide, Community Matters: A Facing History Approach to Advisory.