Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Rewarding and Eye-Opening: My Favorite "End of the Year" Activity for Any Grade or Classroom

Today in class, I rolled out my favorite, by far, "End of the Year" activity, which I call "A Letter to Next Year's Students". Before I explain how this works in my classroom, I will warn you that this activity can confirm your heroic contributions to the classroom throughout the year (yayyyy for us teachers!) and cause you to end the year on an encouraged and inspired note! With that being said, you might have an eye-opening experience when reading your students' true thoughts and feelings in regard to your class (depending on how honest you encourage them to be)! It can be tough to stomach, but it is a great way to reflect on past teaching practices and activities.

Here is how "A Letter to Next Year's Students" is broken down:

1. I have the students recall what we did on the first day of school, which included reading multiple letters written by last year's students. Their memory is always foggy, but they can usually recall the activity quickly.

2. I inform them that it is now time to write their very own letters to students who will be filling the seats in my classroom next year.

There are only a few basic rules to follow when composing their letters: 

  1. You must be 110% HONEST in regard to the content written in the letter. 
  2. There may be something about me (the teacher) or lesson/activity that you did not particularly enjoy throughout the year. I encourage you to include these things, but REMEMBER: You must be respectful when including these things in your letter. 
  3. This is going to be a valuable resource for next year's students, so be sure include valuable information and insight within the letter. 
  4. Have fun with it! 
Viola! Once written and turned in, you'll have your first activity of the next school year already planned and organized.... 

I start each class off with the following statement on the first day of school: 

"I could take the entire period to explain my personal background, classroom expectations and outline for this course..... But how would you know that I am telling the truth? YOU WOULDN'T! So instead of all of that.... I allowed my super students from last year tell you all about the year ahead of you in Room 30 - as well as things you might want to know about me and how I run this ship!" 

I have created a printable packet aligned with this activity that will guide students through the rules, a brainstorming activity related to experiences throughout the year, and a template for them to compose their letter with! Check it out here: 

A Letter to Next Year's Students - Fun "End of the Year" Activity

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