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How to Throw a Fabulous Year-End Celebration

By Christy Crawford on May 26, 2011
  • Grades: 3–5, 6–8

Have you ever seen a 3rd grader accept an award for an Excel spreadsheet as though it were an Oscar? Have you seen a 5th grader pose on the red carpet for their first animated film? If not . . . the time is now. The next Bill Gates or George Lucas could be tinkering away in your tech class.

Have you ever seen a 3rd grader accept an award for an Excel spreadsheet as though it were an Oscar? Have you seen a 5th grader pose on the red carpet for their first animated film? If not . . . the time is now. The next Bill Gates or George Lucas could be tinkering away in your tech class. Accomplishments in technology class should be widely acknowledged and celebrated by school staff, parents, and peers. When you celebrate potential, students are encouraged to mobilize technology, make their voices heard, and/or discover new worlds.

Read on to see how project-based learning takes center stage at a multimedia tech celebration and to discover for tips on throwing an over-the-top kid party that will rival the Oscars. 

The cast of "Stop Smoking!" poses for the paparazzi after receiving the 2010 Techie Award for Best Social Issue Cinema.



 Four Weeks Before Your Gala

Get ready to roll out the red carpet!
1. Create your award categories (Best Social Issue Cinema, Best Use of a Digital Camera, etc.) Then order trophies. Purchase a dozen six-inch "Movie Buff" trophies for $10.00 (at Oriental Trading) or 24 four-inch "goldtone" trophies for just $8.00. No need to spend extra money on trophy personalization: purchase gold printable labels, print them out, and stick them on your trophies. (The simplest gold, plastic trophies will have your students salivating for tech victory.) 

2. To get an Oscar-worthy red carpet, spend hundreds of dollars online or make friends with the staff at your local fabric store and local houses of worship. Fabric store representatives can steer you to inexpensive, thick, beautiful material you can cut to create a red carpet for your stars. Local clergy can loan or rent their stanchions for the event. Now that you've got the goods. . . . Cut your red runner. Lay rubber matting under your carpet. Tape each side of the carpet down with red electrical tape, and use the stanchions to create a private walkway for tech superstars.  

Techie Award Treats!3. Expecting lots of paparazzi parents at your event? Forego the expensive press wall or step and repeat backdrop. Purchase a $10.00 backdrop from Oriental Trading. Place black bulletin board paper under your backdrop to create a richer, more expensive-looking scene. On the day of the event, adorn the photo area with a multitude of colorful balloons.  

4. What's an event without popcorn? Order 150 eight-inch popcorn bags from Popcornpopper.com for just $9.99. This fantastic site also offers popcorn tubs and boxes. Purchase popcorn from your favorite wholesale shopping club (Costco, Price Club, etc.) and on the day of the event, assemble a team with gloves to stuff and distribute goodies at your event. 


Three Weeks Before Your Gala

5. Write, shoot and edit an opening for your event. For the 2010 Techie Awards, students wrote an opening that highlighted tech trivia and poked fun at a few adults.  Take a look: 





6. Have students design event invitations. Make multiple copies of the winning design and distribute to school staff, peers, and parents. 


Two Weeks Before Your Gala

Bronx New School 1st graders rehearse acceptance speeches for their e-book, "The Three Little Pigs"!7. Create a banging playlist. Professional award shows flood their venue with music as award winners walk to and from the podium — do the same for young digital natives. Select a couple of students to list and download adolescent-friendly hits. Allow these DJs to fade music in and out as classes enter and exit your award event, before and after acceptance speeches, and/or during a lull in the program.  

Up your cool points with kids by downloading the Techie Awards Playlist, 2011! Don't be surprised when the entire room breaks out into song as these hits play during your awards program!

8. Who needs Billy Crystal or Ricky Gervais? Put your class clown to work in a nondisruptive manner by allowing her to host the event. Have her write skits or jokes to keep your audience chuckling and begin rehearsals immediately. (The next Tina Fey may be in your midst. Don't miss the opportunity to encourage a young comedian to write!) 

9. On your desktop and on a backup flash drive, download excerpts of the work you are showcasing at this year's tech event. Test your equipment, including all of your mics, and run through your entire awards show.

You don't need an interactive whiteboard for this event. Use two laptops, two projectors, two white tarps, and an audio board to blast your kids' work on two adjacent walls. Remember the thrill of seeing your first movie on the big screen? Bring that excitement to an awards show. Techie award nominees will blush when they see their blog, e-book, or movie projected onto colossal tarps. 

10. Prepare a high-tech swag bag. (Swag bags are goody bags for adults, loaded with freebies from sponsors.) This year's Oscar nominees' swag bags included fancy watches, an African safari, gourmet chocolates, sessions with a personal trainer, and a year's supply of Altoids. Load swag bags for older students with each child's flash drive, Internet safety tips from Common Sense Media pasted onto colored index cards, and a "Rock Star" ribbon. Have plenty of safety pins on hand for students who can't wait to receive their prize ribbons. Allow students that are willing to stay for cleanup to drag award-winning Techie Award excerpts from your presentation laptop onto their flash drives.  


The Day of Your Event

Move your equipment into your event venue and set up as soon as possible. Be sure to take extra extension cords, power strips, and lots of electrical tape to secure wayward cords. Finally, grab the Kleenex and get ready to burst into tears as kids deliver their acceptance speeches. Celebrate a year of tech accomplishments!


Join me in August for my Classroom 3000 post and discover the coolest new gadgets and sites for high-tech classrooms. 

Enjoy the summer!











Comments (5)


Yes, I'm going to ISTE. (All of America will be there this summer! ) See you soon!



Thank you and CONGRATULATIONS on your graduation!! I am so happy to hear from you. Please keep me posted as to where you end up teaching this fall.



Sorry to contact you via the comments section, I couldn’t find any other way to reach you. Are you attending ISTE 2011? If so, I wanted to see if we could meet with you to discuss Adobe Youth Voices, a program that empowers at-risk youth with digital media skills so they can speak out and take action on important social issues. AYV engages youth to express themselves through documentary videos, photography, print media, radio diaries, animation, Web communications and other media.

Please email me back directly if you’re interested in learning more and I can send you a package of info.

Best, Eddie


I took your Urban Education class at CCNY back in 2008. I just graduated and got a position as a head teacher for a summer program. (...and hoping to have as much luck in the fall!) Here I am, creating a curriculum and looking for fun ways to end the summer session and this came up! Just as I remembered, you are full of fantastic tips. I will definitely be reading more off of your blog.

Thank you!

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