At the end of the school year, I always try to take inventory of what my students remember. A wonderful colleague of mine once shared the notion with me that learning should be more of a memory than a task. I took that to heart and started to ponder the question, “What memories did my students make this year?” To answer this question, I put my students to the challenge.
We use a brainstorming activity called the "ABC Brainstorm." This is where a topic is given and students write everything they know about the topic using the letters of the alphabet. For example, if the topic was oceans, students would create an ABC list of what they know about the ocean: anemone, barnacle, coral, dolphin, eel, etc.
I use the same brainstorm strategy with the topic, “What memories do you have of this year?” I give students an ABC brainstorming sheet and then put them into collaborative groups to begin their brainstorming. After this session, I partner students up from different groups so that they can go over their findings and possibly spark a memory they might’ve missed. By the end of this brainstorming session, students should have the majority of the letters filled in. We gather back as a whole class and fill in a class list of ABC memories as well (for those who just could not remember anything about the year).
The next step is to take our brainstorms and turn them into something we can share. I’ve done this in a variety of ways. I will pinpoint them one at a time below:
I have students take their brainstorms and look for letters that they could not complete with a memory. They can then seek out classmates or use our class list to fill in the missing letters. From there, students are asked to come up with a visual for every letter. They can draw these on the brainstorm page as a rough draft. Students are given a final draft packet, which has a title page and one letter on each half of this template. I change the template out after I print each letter of the alphabet on it.
Once students have completed each letter along with their image, I cut the pages and put it together as an end-of-year book for each student to have.
Another way to make this a shared project is to assign a letter or letters to groups. Each group is responsible for representing their letter of our ABC Memory book with at least one (you will likely get many responses per letter) memory and a visual representation to accompany their page.
When I’ve done this digitally, I still provide students with the brainstorm page and then I ask them to create a presentation using the tool of their choice (PowerPoint, Google Slides, iMovie, Prezi, etc.). This option works great with both personal creations and having students work together to capture the memories for the year.
The final products are beautiful. Seeing the school year from the perspective of your students allows you as the teacher to see what was valued and what was remembered. My final use of the memory books is as an opportunity to gauge areas of learning that I need to improve in my teaching and facilitating. I look for topics that were covered, but were not mentioned. I write down these topics in a notes section. This is my reminder to approach this topic a little differently in the coming year.
What do you do to capture memories from the school year? I'd love to hear your ideas!
Thank you for reading.