Thursday, May 15, 2014

End of the Year Ideas

As the end of the year approaches, many of use are reconsidering what we do to wrap up the entire semester/year.  Some of us have weird end-of-the-year schedules.  Ya know, the ones where final exams are a week before the end of the actual year?  Or grades are due on a Wednesday but you still have class on Thursday and Friday?

DON'T FRET!  We, here at Brownbag Academics, have some great suggestions to get you designing your End-of-Year Curriculum!

Remember please that all of education is simply a reformulation of ideas.  These are ideas that we have used in our classrooms and have found to work very well!  We've collected these ideas over the years: some were developed by ourselves, some were inspired by lessons found online, and some were collected from colleagues.  Feel free to use and abuse these suggestions!  No sense in recreating the wheel.

1.  Create groups and reflect on the year.
    • One of our favorite activities involves separating the class into groups to have them reflect on the course's objectives.  Have each group reflect on one of the following: 
      • syllabus & course outcomes - did the outcomes match what happened in class?
      • readings - favorites?  least favorites?
      • assignments - which did they learn the most from?  least?
      • activities - did they prefer group work?  partners? individuals?
      • advice - what advice can you offer to next year's group of students?
    • Then, have the groups present their findings and have a whole class discussion!
2.  End of the year slide show.
    • Have students create a slide show welcoming next year's group of students.  Have them work together to include the following:
      • welcome notes
      • course introduction
      • syllabus review
      • what to learn
      • what to be prepared for
      • what they liked best about class
3.  Reflection essay.
    • Having students write a reflection essay is a great way to see how each individual student has grown.  Start with having the students review the syllabus and course outcomes.  From there, have students look back at their work - for English teachers, this may mean looking at old essays; for Math teachers, old tests and assignments; etc.  Then have students write about the growth that they have experienced.  What are their strengths?  What are they still struggling with?  How do they plan to continue improving?  This should be a reflection of them and their work, not you and your teaching.
These ideas should get you started!  We like to think that the end of the year is a time for a reflection - a time for students to begin thinking about what they have learned.  With reflection comes growth and that is what we hope for and expect of our students.  Have a wonderful end of the year!

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