In my first couple of years teaching I was surprised by the amount of "random" blocks of time where we were sitting in the classroom - waiting to leave for end of year field trips, to go to assemblies, to start graduation rehearsal, etc. I usually just had students talk and sign yearbooks, but that actually got old pretty fast for students and me. So, I started the Survivor's Guide activity.
I have the students work in small groups to create a guide to surviving my class for future students. The students initially complain about more work, but it doesn't take long before they are engaged. They love being the experts.
Here's what we do:
- Brainstorm: Students brainstorm on several topics related to the class such as favorite activity or unit, strategies when you get behind, ways to warm my heart. (Dark chocolate is always appreciated) etc. I have a form they use to guide the brainstorm session;
- Analyze and assemble: Next students select some of these ideas and turn them into survival tips complete with illustrations. The tips are assembled into books and left for future students;
- Scavenger hunt: at the beginning of the new year, my new students have a scavenger hunt with the guides - looking for pieces of wisdom that will help them succeed and things to look forward to in this class.
This is one of my favorite end of year activities because:
- Students reflect on the year and get to share their expertise with others;
- New students benefit from the knowledge of past students and the advice of fellow students is more powerful than anything I say.;I learn a great deal about my students impression of the class, activities they found engaging, etc.
What do you do to end the year in a valuable way? Find more ideas on the blog.