Calming the Year End Chaos Tips for Success

For many of us, the end of the school year is coming to a close.  There are feelings of excitement, stress, and desire to play hooky to enjoy the nice weather – the students feel it, too.  ;)

To help keep students on track, I try to maintain structure through the end of the year.  Here are some ideas that have worked well in my middle school math classes:

1 Review material for the year in a fun, engaging way.
During May and early June, whether your students have a standardized test or final exam to prepare for or not, take time to review major topics from the year.  The reinforcement will benefit them moving forward, and they will also see how much they have really learned throughout the school year.  I have played BINGO and Jeopardy with students.  I’ve had my accelerated groups create a review guide to be shared with the class.  My favorite way to review, however, is using task cards.  There are tons of ways to use them, but my favorite is to pair students up, place the cards and answer key at the front of the room, and ask the pairs to get one card at a time.  Students talk it out with one another, try the problem, and then check their own answers.  This way they know whether they have a question or have the topic mastered.  I have ready to use middle school math task cards for grades 5-8 available in my store.

2 Provide logic puzzles to keep them thinking.
As we approach the final few days and the final exam is over, I have always given students some type of logic puzzles to work through.  I love the ones that ask students to decipher the common phrase given an image.  For example: AallLL à “All in all.”

3 Play charades.
Students loved this time-filler activity!  I made up a bunch of charades topics that had to do with our class throughout the year and students had to act them out it.  I included specific routines, funny events, memorable lessons, and more.  It was a great interactive way to reminisce on the year.

4 Write a thank you letter to a favorite teacher.
As an eighth grade teacher, every year I host this activity where students take time to write a thank you letter to their favorite teacher throughout middle school.  They take time to reflect on their journey at the school and thank a teacher who had a big impact on their experience, citing specific reasons or examples.  I collect the letters, skim through to make sure they’re appropriate, and then sort them into envelopes for each teacher, and put them in their mailbox a couple days before the end of the school.  Teachers love this little surprise!  It’s such a great pick-me-up at the end of the year when many of us are feeling so drained.

5 Ask students to write a note to you.
I’m including this here as an end of year idea, but I actually do this throughout the year.  Give students 5 minutes or so at the end of a class to write you a letter.  I call them “Letters to Mrs. Nix,” inspired my good friend and colleague who called hers “Letters to Ms. Campbell.”  Students can write about anything they want: weekend plans, exciting news, how things are going.  Math jokes and drawings are always welcome, too.  It’s a great way to learn a little bit about your students and to connect with students who might typically be quiet in your class.  It will also make you smile!

6 At the very end, put them to work!
The last day of class, I put my students to work.  No hanging around for hours after the school year has ended for me.  Preplan ahead of time what needs to be done to close up your room.  Write the jobs on small pieces of paper and ask each student to choose one.  Voila!  The jobs will be done in no time.  By the way, I do this periodically throughout the year with room cleaning.  “Good morning homeroom!  Pick a job.”  You room will be sanitized and organized in 10 minutes or less!

Be sure to check out more great ideas from other amazing teacher-bloggers:

More End of the Year Survival Tips

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Teacher Appreciation

As many of my readers know, I recently left my full time teaching position in order to have more time at home with my (now one-year-old) son.  It was a very difficult decision because I loved my job, but four months later I know for sure it was the right decision for my family.  I now work part time as a Title 1 Math Tutor in an urban district and I love it.  It is such an honor to be able to take on a role that helps both teachers and students.  I see how hard these teachers work everyday.  The odds are against many with a community plagued by drugs and violence.  On Teacher Appreciation Week – and always – I just want to say that I see all of the wonderful things that are happening.

To the math teacher who stays in during lunch to help students finish their work, I see you and you are making a difference.

To the health teacher who is sending positive messages about life, health, and good decisions, I see you and you are making a difference.

To the innovative teachers who are trying technology that their students are more comfortable with than they are, I see you and you are making a difference.

To the dedicated professionals who come in before and after school to make sure each students gets the academic help they need, I see you and you are making a difference.

To the writing teachers who inspire students by providing relevant albeit controversial topics, I see you and you are making a difference.

To all teachers – today and always – it is really easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind.  Know that what you are doing is important.  You may even change someone’s life.  Keep chugging along.  I hope you will take a minute to realize the enormity of what you do.  I see you and you are making a difference.

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