Fully Engaged Until The Last Day08 May 2016
This time of year can be difficult and stressful for teachers. Being the season of testing our students become tired, restless and bored. After they complete their state or national tests they often loose focus and motivation. Teachers become frustrated with the lack of motivation for the last quarter of the year. My hope is that I can give you some great ideas and tips to keep your students FULLY engaged until that very last day!
Don't feel like you have to spend the last part of the year teaching EVERY last bit of instruction. In my opinion, if the students don't know it by now then they most likely won't gain it in the last 6 weeks. Find a way to change things up in your classroom without causing a disruption to your daily routine. The reason I say without disrupting your routine is because some kids NEED ROUTINE. You can change things but stay consistent.
For example one way that I change things up at the end of the year is allowing my students to choose their seat. This allows students the ability to be responsible. They know that this is a privilege but can be taken away if they don't follow our classroom expectations. Classroom rules don't change at the end of the year. I have the same expectations as I did on the first day of school.
Look at your schedule and see if you can give some time for activities that you weren't able to fit in before. My students work quicker in their literacy stations now because of being more independent. This frees up a bit of time to do more in our day. I've freed up 20 minutes from my station time to do art projects, science experiments and other fun activities. 20 minutes doesn't sound like a lot but if your students are on task and working hard they can accomplish a lot in that short time.
Take time to explore with your students. Stop doing the paper and pencil activities (worksheets). Let the kids learn in other ways. Find fun hands on activities, STEM challenges, or invention opportunities.
I've LOVED using these resources below in my second grade classroom. My students LOVE becoming explorers, engineers and inventors!
Brooke Brown's STEM ALL YEAR is full of fun engineering challenges that will excite and motivate your students each month. I'm going to be using May's summer themed challenges in my classroom to build collaboration and problem solving. I can't wait to see my student's water slide creations!
This week my students are learning about famous inventors and how inventions are produced because a problem is being solved. I wanted to allow my students to become inventors on their own during this engaging unit. I began with the board game invention activity. OH MY GOODNESS... My students are absolutely loving this. They are working on their own but their excitement level is through the roof! Now that I've got them excited with this fun invention, we will follow it with more individual and group inventions.
Your students won't be in your class much longer and it's time to create memories and cherish those that have already been made. Take time to do the things that your students will remember. Your children won't remember doing a worksheet.
I've loved having students share their talents and expertise. There are many ideas out there where students prepare and present different things. Genius Hour is a great way for your students to plan, prepare and teach the class something they love and are good at! They take ownership and pride in showcasing a talent or hobby.
During the last few weeks of school make time to talk about the ups and downs of the year. Reflect on the year. Glue those memories in their little minds so they will remember their year with you forever. Take time to make memory books and keepsakes for them to cherish always.
At the end of the year we celebrate our hard work by making our rockstar memory books. These keepsakes are great interactive lap books that the students will record their best thoughts and
memories of the year.
Finally, one think that I love to do in May is tell my students we are learning "3rd grade stuff." They get so excited to know that I'm preparing them ahead of time! They feel so special! I love to introduce cursive handwriting by using feathered pencils. It's the little things that help students get excited about something less exciting like cursive handwriting (let's be honest).
My students also enjoy math fact contests or challenges. There are many different ways to have contests in the month of April and May to keep your students challenged and learning. In addition, reading contests are great because it gets them motivated to keep reading even into the summer.
This monster reading contest is great for all grade levels. It's a contest where students track their at home reading minutes for a challenge that lasts a few weeks. You can make fun rewards that you can customize to fit your time and resources.
Creating an engaging learning environment at the end of the year will help you as a teacher be able to relax and enjoy these last few weeks with your students. Keeping students engaged will also help with behavior issues that tend to arise at the end of the year. Give your students something to do at all times. Keep them fully engaged until that very last day!