If your state is like mine, there’s a couple of weeks to a month between the time you finish with statewide standardized testing and the last day of school. That time can seem like both a gift and a curse! Yes, you’ll have fun things filling up the calendar like end-of-year parties and Field Day, but there’s also the business of keeping tiny humans engaged and learning through the last day, despite pools being open and summer being on everyone’s mind! After you’ve been working hard all year long, that can be challenging! What do you do once testing is done?
I don’t know about you, but there were always some units or lessons that I didn’t have time to get to before testing began (health curriculum, I see you over there). This might seem like a silly thing to add to the list, but it’s helpful to take a second look at your curriculum to look for any units, lessons, skills, or strategies that you missed. Keep your students interested with cross-curricular activities, hands-on projects, and lessons that challenge them to think creatively and critically (logic puzzles FTW).
You have a few more opportunities to hit hard those gaps you’ve been working on all year. Maybe try some fresh strategies that will get your students up and moving and engaged in practice. Buddy up with a class from a different grade level. Design fun activities around an exciting theme. Ditch the worksheets and try using art and music in your lessons.
Projects, Projects, and More Projects
Students will absolutely be more engaged with in-depth projects that use a variety of skills they’ve learned over the year. Plus, project-based learning (PBL) is a great way to reinforce content! Try using student-led projects, with kids working individually or in pairs/groups. Or try a genius hour and encourage them to develop passion projects! Anything hands-on or using technology is sure to be a winner when the last day countdown is on!
Tech It Up a Notch
Before your technology specialists take back the devices, try some digital projects. Students can make class memory books in Google Slides™, film themselves making a commercial, get creative with storytelling apps, and more! If you haven’t tried Hour of Code before, that’s definitely one to add to your list!
Hopefully you’ve been able to try some fun new ideas throughout the year, but I know there isn’t always a lot of wiggle room with testing on the horizon. Now that the pressure is off a bit, you can try that big project that you’ve been keeping on the back burner. If you’re excited about it, you know your students will be, too. Makerspace or escape room, anyone?
Focus on the Kids
We spend weeks at the beginning of the school year getting to know our students and building our classroom community, yet when that last week of school hits, we race to pack up the classroom and rush out the door. Making time for special class activities and continuing routines we’ve had in place all year, like morning meetings, help show our students that we care about them no matter what time of the year it is. End-of-year projects seem like a nice time-filler on the surface, but they’re actually a really awesome opportunity for students to reflect on their growth and show what they’ve learned (both personally and academically). Memory books, student portfolios, personalized letters or keepsakes, and team-building activities are great ways to celebrate students, wrap up the year, and say goodbye for the summer.
However you spend those last couple of weeks, I hope you and your students enjoy it and each other. You’ve earned it!