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NYC Helpline: How To: Develop as a Professional

Ending the School Year
Theresa London Cooper

Often as teachers we give the end of year less emphasis for many reasons-–we are tired, the tests are over and we are looking forward to summer vacation. But it is important to remember that learning continues up to the last day.

A well planned closing can make your life a great deal easier and far more enjoyable for you and your students. “Planned” is the operative word. While soliciting the help of parents and colleagues, decide what you want to do and then plan all the details in a timely fashion. You can do many things to make the  end of the school year a memorable one.

For instance, plan trips that connect to some of the learning that took place during the school year. I took my students to Green Meadows Farm, the New York Aquarium, Brooklyn Children’s Museum, the Bronx Zoo, The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the American Museum of Natural History. Throughout the school year we studied various topics connected to the aforementioned places. It’s a wonderful experience to witness the connection children make with what they’ve read, discussed and studied with what they see. Trips reinforce the learning that takes place. (Oh, here is a tip for collecting trip money and permission slips. Give a submission date one week before it’s actually due. Additionally, request that parents place the money and permission slip in an envelope labeled with the child’s name, the amount of money and the name of the trip. Let the students know that you will not receive money and permission that are not in an envelope.)

Engage students in end-of-year projects. Create a Reader’s Theater production which doesn’t require prompts. Reader’s Theater works well with fairy tales and folktales. Have students design invitations to give to their parents. You may decide to have the students perform in a hospital or nursing home. One year, I wrote a letter to an arts organization and two of the fifth grade classes worked with a professional artist to create a mural on law and peace that was mounted on the wall in the line-up area for everyone to see. I planned a ceremony and presented the students and teachers with a plaque highlighting their work. Parents attended as well.

It is wonderful idea to have a celebration of accomplishments. I used my computer to design a personalize Certificates of Promotion for each student. I purchased plastic covers, planned a ceremony, and invited parents to attend a ceremony where the certificates were handed out. In addition, I presented certificates for other subject areas.

Organize a field day for the grade. My colleagues and I planned a field day to Prospect Park, giving the students an opportunity to run, jump and play. Each child received at least one ribbon for participation and sportsmanship. Parents attended and prepared hot dogs and hamburgers for all.

Another great idea is having a book fair. Call RIF (Reading Is Fundamental) and arrange a book fair so that every child goes home with at least one book of their choice for summer reading. My students always enjoyed the excitement of browsing through new books and selecting the book of their choice. Scholastic does a wonderful job as well.

Finally, have your students write a letter to the incoming class about their experience in your class. The activity gives students an opportunity to reflect on their past experience and it serves as informal data for the teacher regarding what students learned and what experiences made an impression on them.

I hope this article will help you think about how you will make the end of the school year memorable.

How do you plan to make the end of the school year unforgettable for you and your students?

Do you have a question or comment about this article? E-mail Theresa.

See also: " Ending the School Year Smoothly," also written by Theresa.

"How to Survive the Last 2 Months of the School Year and Come Back Again Next Year " by Judi Fenton


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