End of Year

May28

I want to thank Larry Ferlazzo for putting up a post about his article on the last day of school, because I have lesson plans all the way out until our final three days, and it got me thinking about what I need to do.

Larry provided a list of three approaches most teachers take to the day. They are:

CATEGORY ONE: Placate and Vegetate. This section requires little explanation, and I’ve been guilty of it myself some years. The teacher puts on a movie, sets out games for students to play, or allows them to listen to music and chat. Everybody pretty much just counts down the minutes.

CATEGORY TWO: Celebrate and Appreciate. Many of the teachers who responded to my call-out have celebrations.

CATEGORY THREE: Evaluate and Agitate. This translates into have the students do actual work.

Larry teaches secondary which has five to six¬†45-60 minute periods. Elementary school where I teach has a completely different rhythm and flow since I have to go the whole day with the same group of kids. Traditionally, the district had the last day as a minimum day, which made planning easier, but this year, it’s a full day. I plan to do all three categories of activities to different degrees and at different times of the day as is appropriate. Here is my plan, which given the vagaries of the day, and the students will be highly subject to change.

  • Evaluate and Agitate – The class will start with reflection by the students, and by me, on how the year has gone. We will start with some regular daily activities (like bell work, DLR, and cursive), but I will have them do some writing on the year in our classroom. My students are generally not poor, etc. but all kids need some structure and centering, even on the last day of class. The agitation will come from the students themselves by having a discussion about what they write.
  • Celebrate – I’ll then give out some recognition for each student from myself on something they did that was special this year. Following that will be a party starting slightly before lunch time.
  • Placate/Vegetate – The kids usually hit a dormant period of somnolence after all that pizza and pop. Music, video, etc. are appropriate at this time, but they will then come awake, and this is a critical period because if you don’t have a plan, behavior can digress into running about the room, etc.
  • Agitate – We’ll go outside for dodgeball or kickball (with bubbles and sidewalk chalk for the calmer kids).
  • Clean up – This is both selfish and part of learning. Because I don’t have a half-day to clean the room myself (usually with help from a handful of kids who I trust), I will need to have the kids assist with the cleanup. This part of learning responsibility so it is educational. This will be longer than on a normal day given the party debris, but should not last the entire afternoon period. Thirty minutes should do the trick.

In elementary, the end of school is more of a week or two, rather than a day. Our open house is Wednesday, so clean up for the end of year, and handing back classwork will start then. We have a PlayDay on the last Friday and a picnic at a nearby park to follow. There is a field trip scheduled for the sixth that will last all day. The fact is that there are a lot of activities that interrupt the regular flow from now until school ends on Wednesday June 13th. This doesn’t mean that all our routines go out the window, just that I show enough flexibility to get us through this time without letting things descend into chaos.

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