Monday, May 2, 2016

How to Thrive, Not Survive During the Last Few Weeks of School

We all know that the last few weeks can be challenging for teachers, but they are also challenging for students--hence their inability to focus and control their energy.  Conundrum of teaching number 96: A classroom is filled with X amount of energy and the more students drain from it, the less is left for the teacher. ;) 

However, if you can find a way to harvest all of that extra energy that students have this time of year, then you can end the school year THRIVING, not just surviving! 

Here are a few ideas for the last weeks of school: 

1. Give them a project in which they can use their creativity:

*Bring a little STEM into English class by having students design a tiny house for ANY character or author 

*Create a children's book using Storybird to summarize and simplify the themes in any story or book. This would also be great as a summative review. You could have students choose their favorite piece of literature from the year to turn into a children's book. 

2. Play Games: 

Are you following me on Instagram? 
This is where I share most of my ideas first! You can find me @Bsbooklove 

* Art- This is a new game that I saw my students playing one day after a test. I might mess up some of the directions, but here is the gist. 1. Students get into groups of 5 or 6. Each person has little slips of paper for the amount of people in the group (in groups of 5 each person will have 5 slips of paper). 2. Everyone draws something on ONE slip of paper (this is where you can add in the educational value by saying "Draw one element of the setting" or "draw something to represent a vocabulary word") 3. Each person passes their drawing to the right WITHOUT telling anyone what it is. Now, each person WRITES (not draws) a description of what the picture is. This will be a funny challenge for those who get art from nonartists :). 4. Everyone passes to the right again then DRAWS what the slip of paper says. 5. Keep repeating the pattern until the original drawing gets back to the owner 6. Let everyone read their responses and show their drawings. In essence, this is kind of like a visual version of "telephone."   

*Lit Olympics by my friend, David Rickert 

3. Get earthy with lots of movement and outside time: 

*Get students moving with Literary Yoga 

*Go outside and read. Sometimes we just need to read during the last few weeks to get through a book, but just by changing the scenery, I can normally keep my students focused. They love doing anything "different" even if that "different" is the same ol' reading except in a new location. ;)

 I have a whole post on other ways to get students learning outside and you can read that here: Spring ELA activities 

Trick students into doing your end-of-year work: If you try to clean your room by yourself, you will use up all of your planning time for next year. What would take you an entire day to do can be done by students in just a few minutes. I find that students want to help me clean, but I can never think of things for them to do in the moment. Then, I had an idea to brainstorm all the tasks that need to be done in preparation of shutting down my classroom for the summer before our last day. I cut out these cute bonus cards each gave students the option of completing one for extra credit. My room was spotless and packed up within hours. You can download these FREE and editable cards from my TpT store here: End-of-Year Gifts for Students 

I hope that you have some wonderful last few weeks of school! If you would like to send some love to your students before they leave, you might be interested in these: