Most people love when the end of April rolls around. Warmer weather (especially if you live in New England), longer days, and the thought that the summer months are almost here. I am here to tell you that this is NOT what teachers think about at the end of April.
Teachers, for the most part, have two conflicting views as the year starts to wind down:
Woo hoo! We made it and the year is almost over.
Oh. My. God. It’s the end of April. There isn’t enough time to do everything we still need to do!
Those thoughts are a little like having two kids in the backseat on a road trip fighting for attention. Am I right? Don’t worry. I’ve got you covered.
Here are four of my favorite tips and tricks to end the school year.
1. Try Something New
Yes, you read that correctly. No, I am not crazy. The students sitting in front of you are the perfect guinea pigs for a new idea. The routines you worked so hard on at the beginning of the year are set in stone. You can try a new activity or dabble with a new way of teaching a concept without the worry of teaching routines at the same time. I am doing this in my classroom right now. Possible ideas for my next professional goal for our teacher evaluation system have been rattling around in my brain for months. Using Genius Hour as a part of my Writer’s Workshop is in the top spot (for now). So, I decided to play around with it for the last few months of the school year to see if it could work.
If trying something big makes you uncomfortable start with something small. Recently I created a new writing activity called Scrambled Stories. It uses story starters, but there’s a twist. Each student begins a story but only writes for ten minutes. When the timer goes off everyone rotates, reads the story, and picks up writing where the last person left off. You can check it out here.
2. Let Students Teach
Give your students a chance to be the teacher. This is highly motivating and can be done in many different ways. One way to approach this is to have partners become “experts” and prepare lessons on concepts that you want to review. This approach works best when the partners are chosen by the teacher. I strategically assign content to make sure that each pair has to do some review before preparing the lesson. I want them to learn something from the activity, too.
Another way to do this is to allow students to prepare a lesson and/or activity on something that interests them. Students love to share outside interests and I am always amazed by the things I learn. Make sure to check and approve any student-created lessons before the presentations!
3. Organize with Purpose
I start cleaning and organizing my classroom at this point in the year. That doesn’t mean that I take down all of my anchor charts and put away the manipulatives! I start the organizing process by weeding out the things I want to keep for next year and getting rid of the things that I don’t. I start to box up items that I won’t be using for the remainder of the year in clear containers. Clear containers are THE BEST way to organize because you can see what is inside. I love the way they stack and you can find them with lids in lots of colors.
At this point, I also organize the things I don’t want to keep into two areas: Toss and Raffle. The toss pile includes things that I can recycle, donate, or toss. The raffle pile is special. Things in this pile are used to raffle off to students at the end of the year. They love “winning” things! I raffle off extra supplies that I won’t use, extra stickers, well-loved books that won’t survive another year in my classroom library, and anything else that crops up that I won’t use and don’t have the heart to throw away.
4. End of Year and Beginning of Year Bulletin Board Idea
Here’s an easy way to end the year with a bulletin board ready for September. Have students write a book review for the best book they read during the year on coffee cup shapes. Then create a bulletin titled: We Read a Latte.
Cover the bulletin board with butcher paper at the end of the year. Uncover it at the start of the new school year. The bulletin board is a great motivator for both avid and reluctant readers. Check out the resource I created here.
I hope the end of your school year is stress-free! For more end of year tips and tricks you can check out this post.