The Learning Doesn’t Stop – Ideas for Maximizing Those Last Few Weeks of School

I don’t do end of year countdowns, I actually dread the last day of school because it means these amazing kids are not going to be mine any longer.  And yet, being in 5th grade means that graduation is near, middle school looms, and the kids know that our time is limited.  So they started asking me what we would be doing these last few weeks after math is done, memoir is done, all that stuff we had to get through is done (I never tell them that we are never done even if we aren’t).  And voila; a list of ideas for the remaining weeks.

  • The teapot project.  After we finish our math journals I don’t want math to end, so thank you Aviva for choosing us to receive your teapot.  This means that the last two weeks of school we will be busy researching, designing  and building our own packing material for the teapot that will go back to another classroom in Canada.  Math journals may have stopped  but the math certainly doesn’t
  • Our reading recommendation list.  My students love to read; they breathe books and many kids have already expressed fear that they will not know what to read over the summer.  We therefore decided to ask strangers for recommendations and will also be compiling our own.  In the end we will create Animotos showcasing our favorites reads, a list for students to access for recommendations, and probably a massive wish list of books for me for next year.
  • Book bins of our favorite books.  This was a great idea from a teacher at my school; have your students create personalized book bins for the incoming class.  My students will each create one with a favorite 5th grade book, a favorite series book, a book they never thought they would like, and a book that was too hard for them to read at the beginning of the year but now they have mastered.  What a wonderful way to get the next set of students ready to read.
  • Our favorite memories.  Students become movie producers as they sort of how to film students favorite memories of 5th grade.  This is a great extension of our memoir unit and also allows the kids to tell me what they loved.  A committee usually takes care of the actual filming and producing.
  • What I like about….I love this simple video project where every student is tasked with complimenting three other students.  Again a committee takes care of the filming and editing.
  • A thank you letter for all those other people.  I try to teach my students the power of a thank you letter and so we end the year compiling letters to all of those people that have made the school year wonderful; our specials teachers, our custodians, our lunch ladies and anyone else the students want to thank.  Since they are 5th graders they often ask if they can write thank you notes to their old teachers as well.  A committee take scare of the binding of the books but this is a great way to once again discuss letter writing.
  • Precepts for the new 5th grade students.  Anyone who has read Wonder knows what I mean by precepts but in essence they are words to live by.  I will therefore be asking my students to write precepts for my new students that I can use for my welcome display.  This is their chance to give them words to live by in 5th grade and it will be nice to have these reminders on the first day of school where I tend to miss those old students a lot.
  • Innovation Day.  We just had Innovation Day as a whole grade level on Wednesday and I cannot tell you how incredible it is for 60 students to just engage in their very own project for a whole day.  If you don’t know what Innovation Day it is not too late to do it at your school.
  • Dear Future Mrs. Ripp’s Kids.  Letters from my old students to the new ones offering them tips, getting them excited about the year to come, and of course trying to answer any questions they may have.  I hand these to my new students to read and discuss and then I take them back after that.  I save every year’s letters as a reminder of just how many kids I have been privileged to teach.
  • We also blog up until the last few days, do a government simulation, read one more book aloud, do an end of the year survey, present our biome projects, weed through our library, figure out how the classroom should be set up next year and just have a really great time with each other.  So yeah, I don’t do a countdown – we simply have too much to still do!

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