As a teacher, there are so many chaotic moments at this time of year. It is chaotic for you as well as your students. However, as much as you (and they) are counting the days to the end of the school year, there are some steps that you can take to both calm that chaos now, and reduce the chaos in the fall.
Read below for some great tips, and a chance to enter to win a $60 gift card
For your classroom, you are likely to have some downtime as students are finishing up, completing projects, reviewing for tests, and generally winding down. Their attention span is waning, as is their level of effort and focus. This is a great time of year for several types of activities. I like to use this time to try out new classroom activities or routines that I am thinking about trying in the future. I wrote about this in my recent blog post here (with a couple freebies)!
I also think that this is a great time to do some of those 'fun' activities that you may not have time for at other times. Have students film a video as either a reflection or a portfolio, or a final project. For science, this means that this is a good time to do something like the chemistry of tie-dye. Or a map reading practice outside on school grounds (a treasure hunt perhaps)? If there is a lab that you'd like to do, but it doesn't quite fit into the curriculum, you can sometimes fit it in at the end of the year. Here are two free, fun activities. One has to do with density and one has to do with static electricity. Students definitely need to be kept engaged, as the weather gets nicer, and you want them to leave on a positive note.
This is a time of year when its good to give students a choice. Maybe some students want to do a lab, and others have work to finish up or another assignment to work on. And there are some students who are just done with doing any organized type of activity. I think it is always a good idea to have some 'jobs' that a student can do if they don't want to do school work, or they are finished. At this time of year there are plenty of jobs. Students can do the following (and much more):
- go through markers and throw out those that no longer work
- sharpen colored pencils
- take posters and decorations down
- pack boxes if needed, and with good direction
- some students may be able to help file papers, alphabetize, hand back work.
Use this help! As you are cleaning up and closing out this year, the more organized that you are (and your students are) you can make your next year start off much less chaotic. If you are anything like me, you think that you will remember what's in that unlabeled box that you just put on the top shelf...but I won't and I don't know if you will either. Label!! Be organized! For labs, if you put away the lab partially set up (such as in student kits, labeled) you will save yourself so many headaches! Get yourself in order (computer files, paper files, lab equipment).
As much as you want to get out and enjoy your summer, while the school year is fresh in your mind, a few other things that you can do include ordering supplies if you have any budget and know what you are teaching. It is so nice to come back to a supply order ready to go. If you are teaching something new, secure a textbook and/or curriculum guide or pacing chart so that, after you've had a bit of a break, you have some resources to start getting up to speed and you won't be scrambling to find them later (I have curriculum/resource guides for Earth Science and AP Environmental Science available in my store). Take the time to do a little bit of reflection, whether its through a student evaluation or a self-reflection, think about what went well, and what you would like to change. The end of the year is a good time to think about some possible changes. If your school is starting any new initiatives next year, such a 1:1 technology, see if you can get a few resources before the end of school to start you thinking.
If you are really ahead of the game, you could even think about some basic classroom materials that you may want to get printed out and have on hand. A good place to look would be in the Classroom Organization Bundle, which includes such things as station signs, testing sign, editable seating chart templates, tickets out and other 'goodies' that I use at the start of the year, and throughout the year in my classroom.
And most of all, after you've done all that, or as much as appeals to you, go home, sit out in the sunshine with a glass of ice tea, and enjoy it! You've earned it!!
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