Ending the School Year Virtually
Students and teachers often excitedly look forward to the end of the school year as a time to celebrate accomplishments and growth. During these uncertain times, you may be struggling to find ways to authentically connect and celebrate as a class, grade level, or school. Read on for several tips and ideas of ways you can wrap up the school year with your students virtually.
Help students create their own memories
Students of all ages should be encouraged to reflect on the past school year and think beyond the last several months to what was enjoyable and meaningful for them. To do this, you may want to help them by providing specific prompts that encourage them to reminisce and think critically about the year. Tools like the Letter to Myself in the Future can be used for personal reflection and automatically sends the emailed letter to students at a later, pre-specified date. The opportunity to write a letter to themselves will set students up to reflect openly about this year at school and the lessons they learned and to set intentions and hopes for the next school year or beyond.
Replicate the end-of-year community feel
There is a distinct feeling to those last days at school after all the tests are finished, the student work is off the walls, and there is time for sharing memories. Create opportunities for students to share their favorite moments with their classmates by using FlipGrid to collect responses. As an asynchronous tool, FlipGrid is especially useful for if you have trouble getting active participants in group video calls, since students can record themselves on their own time and watch submissions from their peers later. Provide prompts such as, What was your favorite memory with the whole class? What is one thing you learned about the world? What are you most proud of this year? Encourage students to recognize the growth in others or to share their favorite fun learning moment from the school year.
Tell your class story in photos
During the final days of the school year, remind your students of how the year started! Collages of photos, when shared via PowerPoint, are a great way to look back on the school year and the exciting learning opportunities you had with students. Fiama Liaudat, a teacher from Martin Millennium Academy, is creating a slideshow of the year, including field trips, cultural activities, presentations, and in-class activities that were meaningful to the class. Enlist the help of parents by sharing a Google Drive folder where they can add their photos from volunteering as parent helpers. When it’s finished, present your year in review in a Zoom call or record a video talking about how proud you are of your students and how much you’ve enjoyed having them in your class.
Have a field day–Zoom style
Being confined to the virtual environment does not mean you need to sacrifice the fun and engagement you are accustomed to experiencing at the end of the school year. Some suggestions from our United We Teach Zoom calls for end-of-year virtual activities included playing Minute to Win It games or inviting your students to perform for their classmates in a talent show, like Kate Hernandez at Mountain View Elementary has done. With your grade-level team, consider pulling together packet materials to send home or printables that would allow students to create a wearable item and participate in a themed party. You could even create a silly video with other teachers and share that with students. Whatever you choose, have a little fun with it—if you are enjoying yourself, your students will too.
No matter how you choose to end the school year, we are proud of the incredible efforts our ambassador teachers have made during these unprecedented changes and interruptions to the typical school year. Take a moment to reflect, and be proud of the work you’ve done as teachers and mentors to your students.