End of the Year Teaching Resources

 End of year activity ideas that are low on prep and high on student engagement. These activities will keep your students involved in their classroom community until the final bell!
End of year is coming and the goose is getting fat... wrong song, wrong time of year? I am sorry but I can't help but be over the moon that the end of the school year is almost here. Whether you get out at the end of May or June the end it nigh! I just wanted to shout that one more time. 

Every year about this time we start getting antsy, and oh yeah, our students do too. It is tempting to fill the rest of the year with Bill Nye videos, games, and extra long recesses. I would like to encourage you to do more though.

More? More you ask of me? I know that you are worn out, but why not take the time to really enjoy your students this time of year and allow them to bond with one another before the summer break? 

With these activities students can share their learning and excitement with one another all while staying engaged up until the very last moment of the very last day. 

Spider Story

Students sit in a circle and are given a ball of yarn. Beginning with the student who holds the yarn they say one sentence of a story then pass the yarn. The next student adds a sentence and the process continues until you run out of yarn or the story is complete. 

You could easily modify this activity by changing it up a bit. Instead of telling a story students could talk about their favorite memory from the school year, name a fact they learned this year, or ask a question that they have been wondering. 

End of year activity ideas that are low on prep and high on student engagement. These activities will keep your students involved in their classroom community until the final bell!Compliment Capes

This activity is a great way to increase student self esteem at the end of the year. Each student is given a piece of regular white printer paper that is taped to their back. Students all stand up with a marker each and travel around the room writing positive messages to their classmates on their "capes."

This is an awesome activity to complete right before standardized testing or in the afternoons following the big test when students are drained and feeling a bit eh. 

Mum Ball

If you are looking for an activity to grab your students' attention and keep them engaged, but silent Mum Ball is for you! Check out this post from Ari and The Science Penguin for how to play. 

Read-a-Thon

Do you have a classroom full of students who just can't get enough reading time? Then a read-a-thon is for you! Have your students choose a book and a spot and read their little hearts out! 

I encourage students to read together if they would like, or on their own, or in small groups. We pause throughout the read-a-thon for dramatic read alouds, students to share their discoveries, and for stretch breaks. My students always loved this precious time. 

Cooperative Learning Activities

If you have read any posts here before, you could have probably guessed that this one was coming. I am a cooperative learning strategy nut, and what better time to really beef up your cooperative learning game than when students' energy is waning at the end of the year. 

All strategies would be great for the end of the year, but to make your life SUPER easy I have this set of 11 pre-made activities that are ready to print and go with minimal prep from you, and really you don't have to do anything but make copies and cut. (Let's be honest, sometime I just have my students do the cutting.)

This awesome pack is chock full of activities that you can use multiple times to keep students engaged in the afternoons of testing days as well as up to the final bell on the final day of school. Check it out!  With more than 100 pages of activities, templates, and directions your students are sure to feel the classroom community love!

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Happy Teacher Series: How to Encourage Others

Do you hate on your fellow teachers or are you an encourager? Try these 8 ideas for encouraging others.
Teaching is tough, and I don't know why so many teachers make it harder on one another by hating on each other. I mean seriously, why do we talk about one another and pick at each other's flaws when we could be one another's biggest cheerleaders?

I am not completely blameless here. I too have fallen into the trap of talking about others and tearing them down when I knew the whole while that I should be building them up. This is what we try to instill in our students, so why is it so hard for us to do. I have a few theories on this, but am no expert.

The truth is, happy teachers encourage those that are around them, because a happy person wants others to be happy too. Instead of breaking one another down and placing every action under the microscope why don't we change our mindset and work to encourage one another. We can encourage each other to do better and be better.

How Happy Teachers Encourage Others

    Do you hate on your fellow teachers or are you an encourager? Try these 8 ideas for encouraging others.
  1. Actively listen to what they have to say. So often we get caught up in what we are doing and forget that others have things going on too. Take the time to ask a coworker how they are doing and really listen to the answer and respond thoughtfully.
  2. Smile! It is amazing how just getting a smile from across the hallway can lift you up. 
  3. Write a positive note. Handwritten notes have kind of gone the way of the dodo bird, so they are that much more special when received. Personally, I have saved many quick notes that were just jotted down on a sticky because they said what I needed to hear at that moment in time. 
  4. Compliment them. Ideally the comment would be something deep, but if you are struggling a compliment on someone's appearance is always safe. 
  5. Recognize accomplishments. No matter how big or how small everyone deserves to have their achievements celebrated. There is nothing worse than feeling the high of success and no one else noticing. It doesn't take much to recognize someone's accomplishments. A simple high five, pat on the back, or general woohoo will get the job done!
  6. Say thank you. Let your coworkers know that you value them and their efforts. It goes a long way. 
  7. Value their time. One of the easiest ways to encourage someone and let them know that they are valued is to tell them that you appreciate them spending their time on a task and respect that they have other things they could be doing. We are so busy as teachers when someone gives up their time to help with a task they deserve to be recognized. 
  8. Recognize people's strengths and put them in appropriate leadership roles. Instead of just assigning roles at random allow teachers to take on leadership roles that interest them. This will undoubtably encourage their participation. 
I know that this list is just the beginning of how you can encourage others, and teachers are the absolute best at coming up with creative ways to celebrate others! What other ideas do you have for encouraging others on your campus?

For more information on working towards being a happy teacher check out 11 Things Happy Teachers Don't Do

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Cooperative Learning Strategy: Showdown

The Showdown cooperative learning strategy is a GREAT way to get students actively involved in content practice with very little prep from you!

About Showdown

The cooperative  learning strategy showdown is a great team strategy for reviewing content that your students already know. It is best when used with content rich task cards, even if they require a little bit of work to prepare the answer. Showdown works best when

Materials 

  • Each team of students will need their own set of task cards or problems to complete. 
    •  I have also chosen to use the projector to show one problem at a time and have teams solve, but this takes away the ability for each team to work at their own pace. 
  • Each student will need a place to work out their answer. I prefer to use whiteboards, but pencil and paper will also work. 

How to Use the Cooperative Learning Strategy Showdown

  1. Students are placed in groups of four.
  2. Each group of students is given a set of task cards placed face down in the center of their workspace. 
  3. A student is chosen to pick the first card and read it aloud to the group they are the team captain for this round.
    • The teacher chooses which student goes first. I will usually choose this student based on their seat at the table, whoever is tallest/shortest, or whoever's birthday is closest. It does not matter who starts, because the role of team captain rotates to all students. 
  4. Students each find the answer to the question independently in their own workspace. During this time they will not share their thoughts or answers. 
  5. When everyone is finished working the problem they show the team captain they are done.
    • The Showdown cooperative learning strategy is a GREAT way to get students actively involved in content practice with very little prep from you!
    • I have students turn over their whiteboards to signal they are done. This nonverbal signal is clear, but doesn't cause a lot of commotion. 
  6. The team captain calls, "Showdown."
  7. Students show and share their answers with one another.
  8. If all teammates agree on the answer they erase their boards and move on. If even one of the team members disagrees then they must discuss their answers and come to a consensus on the right answer. 
  9. The process is repeated with the role of team captain rotating in a clockwise fashion. 

When to Use Showdown

Showdown is best used as a cooperative learning strategy when students are reviewing a concept that has already been taught. It is ideal for test prep or any other kind of review. 

Showdown is NOT a strategy for directly teaching material. 

What is the Teacher's Role in Showdown?

While your students are busy with their roles in showdown you might be wondering what you are doing as the teacher. The great thing about cooperative learning activities are that they free up the teacher to move around the room. This allows you to listen in on conversations, help out a team that is struggled, or informally assess students learning as they complete their task.

Are you looking for more information on cooperative learning strategies? Check out The Ultimate Cooperative Learning Strategies Guide

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