Well, we made it! The end of the school year is almost here, and you no doubt are ready to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor: summer vacation! It’s amazing how quickly these ten months have gone by, and although you may have one foot out the door, take a moment to look at some of the most incredible moments you shared with your class. With so many innovative ways to reflect on student achievement, you may hesitate to close the books on the school year after all.
Put a new spin on an old classic by creating a digital collage of work samples and noteworthy projects to showcase student achievement. Although there are several ways to go about creating these amazing designs, I have found Microsoft’s AutoCollage to be the most impressive. Simply choose a handful of your favorite pictures and voilÃÂ : a randomized digital collage is created just for you. What a wonderful way to capture significant moments. You may also choose to use this as a time line chronicling different points in the year, and since your creations can be saved, they can easily be printed and mounted as a special gift. I plan on framing a collage at the end of each school year. Not only does it serve as a memento of each class, but it can show incoming students what they have to look forward to on the first day of school.
Have you ever had a student create something so incredible that it truly was a work of art? Seek out a spot in your building that is yearning for redecorating, and watch it turn into a true conversation piece. On a slightly smaller scale, ask your class to draw or sketch their favorite teachable moment from the year. Turn this lesson into a group project by requiring students to only use individual pieces of computer paper, creating one giant collaborative picture.
Tradition dictates that teachers give out incentive awards at the end of the year, but why not give the honor of awarding them to the students? My kids were shocked when I told them that they would be the ones deciding who would win our class awards this year, and I found myself wondering if I had made a mistake in handing over the reins to them. However, to my delight, everyone was ecstatic upon hearing that they were in charge of such a big responsibility. The only guidelines I gave them were that no one could win more than once and that they must come up with the award titles. They came up with some incredibly creative honors such as “Best Paper Creation Maker” and “Computer Genius of the Future.” In addition, they made each award either by hand or on the computer, painstakingly choosing the perfect graphics. What struck me most, though, was the fact that as a group, it was essential for them to ensure that an award be given to every student in class. I felt so proud of the classroom climate we had built this year!
I’ve stated before that every year we receive a group of different students and have hopes that we can reach them academically and emotionally. This year I was so blessed to have a class who touched my life. Over the last few months I have struggled with a somewhat difficult pregnancy that has limited my teaching in more ways than one. I assumed that the world of middle school would be oblivious to these obstacles, but I couldn’t have been more mistaken. From taking my lunch upstairs to the faculty room across my building each day to carrying in my belongings each morning, each one of my students has given a portion of themselves to make my life easier. I never expected their outpouring of concern, and find myself very lucky to have had the pleasure of teaching such a generous-hearted class.
I truly feel that I have the greatest job in the world, and it has been an honor to share my classroom with you this year. I hope that you leave yours filled with a renewed commitment and passion for teaching and that September comes a little more quickly than you expected it to. All the best for a safe and wonderful summer!