These 3 are my favorite end of year tributes to my reading students.
Read The Giving Tree
This circle-of-life book is the essence of middle school. We push the desks back, gather on the floor, and grasp the last wisps of childhood that seventh grade will allow. This is our final lesson together, learning that we need each other, we have value, and we can bring happiness to others.
Write a Class poem
I started this in my first year of teaching and every year I say, “I probably won’t do the poem this year. I’m just
too busy.” Yet every year I’m overcome with sentiment at their sweet faces and the words come. I share with my students a poem about our year, the challenges we’ve overcome, and my hopes for their futures. Each class receives it differently, but I think as with many things it’s more for me than them.
Class Awards for Everyone
Again, I try to find any excuse not to do these because they seem time consuming at first. However, the McMath Awards have become a trademark end of school tradition. Every student gets an individual award I create. They are not academic related, rather they celebrate other aptitudes or memories we’ve shared. I get creative like, “Future Lawyer” for my highly argumentative student or “Drum Major” for the kid who constantly taps his pencil.
These are 5 fabulous end of year exercises for students.
Summer Reading List
Use goodreads or your local library website to build a To Read list for the summer. I even have students create a weekly schedule with page goals. I also create a goodreads list for my students to access over the summer with my recommended reads.
Summer Bucket List
I emphasize that summer is a gift not to be wasted. We create a summer bucket list. I encourage students to make theirs as selfless as possible. How can you use your gift of time to help others? Mow lawns and donate the money? Babysit your siblings so your mom can run errands? I also have them set screen time goals. Sure, they may not do ANY of the bucket list items. However, taking time to consider them is one step closer to accomplishing them.
What do you wish you would have known on the first day of school? Compile a survival guide. What does a student in this school need to know to thrive?
Letter to Your Graduating Self
Our math department does an excellent job at making this happen each year. The students write a letter to themselves as graduating seniors. The teachers actually send the students these letters just before graduation.
Write children’s books and read to elementary students
Next week my students will go to a neighboring elementary school to read books they’ve written. This serves as their end of year project. I’ll conference with each student after the book is printed and bound. We’ll go over a checklist of elements (conflict, indirect characterization, simile, etc.) and they will show me evidence of each in their children’s book. After we read the books to the second graders, we will donate them to the students. It’s always a highly rewarding day for everyone!