We have a week left of school and every year I feel hard-pressed for time. There’s so much to do and so little time in which to do it! As the school year comes to a close, I give students time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the coming one.
Reflecting is a good way to showcase the hard work students did this year, and for them to see where they started in September and ended in June. Because growth in reading and writing is slow, oftentimes students don’t see it. As teachers we see our students grow in leaps and bounds, but when you’re in the thick of it, it doesn’t always feel that way. Regardless of whatever final essay, project, or assignment they are completing as the year winds down, I remind students of this and encourage them to push themselves a little harder as we approach the finish line.
If you’re looking for ways to incorporate reflection as the year draws to a close, try any of these ideas.
Students keep all their work in either their English Notebook (similar to an Interactive Notebook) or their writing folder. In the writing folder I have dividers for different topics–Writing (for essays), Independent Reading (for independent reading assignments or projects), and Literature (for vocabulary assignments, book club assignments, poetry, and short stories).
Each trimester, or after a major writing assignment, students complete a series of questions designed to reflect on their learning and focus on areas where they want to improve.
TO TRY: Have students look back on their writing pieces and pull out their favorite, or ones they are proud of. On a sheet of paper have them write the title of the piece and 2-3 sentences about why they are proud of their work. You can also try this for feedback on the whole year: Student Reflection
This one is a bit harder, as it requires you to be vulnerable. I explain to students that this is the time to give constructive feedback, as I have given that to them on their essays and projects. When giving feedback, I model some examples, so show how you can be honest, but kind.
TO TRY: Come up with a variety of questions that will guide your thinking when you plan curriculum or assignments. Give the questionnaire to students and have them complete. You can see an example here: Write to Me.
My classroom curriculum centers around independent reading, three core novels we read together, and one book club book. Fostering a love for independent reading has taken time, and lots of perseverance, trial and error, and money (think classroom library), what what you value as a teacher is where you spend your time and energy.
TO TRY: Give students a 3×5 index card and have them write down the following: title, author, genre, 2-3 sentence summary of the book, and who might like it. Have students share their favorite book, then collect and store in a box. It’s a great tool for future book talks or for next year’s students who aren’t sure of what to read next. Peer recommendations are powerful. You can see a full example of this here.
Genuine notes from students are so meaningful. After a year of hard work, both on the teacher’s and student’s part, it’s a nice way for students to thank a teacher who meant something to them this year.
TO TRY: Have students complete a thank you note to a teacher they had this year who meant something to them. Collect and then drop in that teacher’s box on the last day of school. Here’s a simple Thank You Template.
My school does not have required reading over the summer, but I encourage it. I pass this list out in hopes of enticing students to continue their reading habit over the summer.
TO TRY: Feel free to pass this Summer Reading List 2018 out to students. Email parents the list is going home, so there’s lots of conversations around books! Let your local library know what books you’ve selected so they can anticipate students coming in to check them out.
If you still have a little ways to go before summer, I hope these tips give you ideas to end the year reflecting on a year of hard work and fun. Happy teaching! xoxo