The countdown to summer has begun! But before we can close up our classrooms and enjoy some rest and relaxation, we have to make it through the end of the year. We have polled our community of teachers and come up with some great end of the year teacher hacks that you can’t live without!!
Hack #1 – Keeping the Routine
The last quarter can be a little crazy; with testing schedules, assemblies, end of year celebrations, etc. I know that keeping the regular routine is a little easier said than done, but doing this will help keep negative behaviors at bay.
Our little friends function much better when they know what to expect from the day. If it happens to be a day where a special event is taking place, try to prep them ahead of time. We all want to enjoy the rest of the school year and keep unwanted behaviors out of the equation.
This is an idea I absolutely love from Carren G. ~ “We have a daily challenge called “Are You Ready to be a __ Grader?“. I make an anchor chart with expectations, and then I make an award, a candy treat, and something else the winner gets. One person daily from spring break to the end of the year wins the award and gets added to the anchor chart. It has really helped to tighten up behaviors the last quarter.”
“Keep your schedule as normal as possible for as long as possible or they will go CRAZY!” ~ Destiney P.
Hack #2 -Keep Test Prep Fun
Testing is a part of fourth quarter, and that is totally out of our control. But what is in our control is how we prepare for it. I always try to make test prep fun and engaging for my students. Here are some of the ways I make this task enjoyable for all…
- Play Jeopardy – I use https://jeopardylabs.com/to create FREE review games for my students. I quickly break them up into table teams, where they can work together to discuss the answers to a variety of questions. I especially like to use this when studying for math tests. Add buzzers to enhance the game experience.
- Kahoot – If you have access to a mobile laptop cart, or have laptops in your classroom, Kahootis another really fun way to review content. It uses a multiple choice response format and students are put on a timer to answer each question posed. And another bonus, it’s FREE to use!
- Scavenger Hunt – Give each student a piece of paper and have them number it #1-10. Prior to the “hunt”, you will have placed 10 pieces of paper around the room with review questions. The students will find the questions and respond to them on their papers. You can have them do this individually or in pairs.
- Find Someone Who – Create a “study guide” of sorts with a set number of questions. Students will move around the classroom, quizzing each other as they “find someone who” can answer a certain question. I usually put the restriction that they can only ask each classmate one question on their paper.
Hack #3 – Brain Breaks
Along with test prep being fun and engaging, I also incorporate “brain breaks” between testing periods. There are some great YouTube videos out there that get your kiddos up and moving and ready to work again afterwards. Here are a few of my favorites…
I will also take my students out for a quick 5-10 minute recess. If your administration allows it, this is a great opportunity for students to get their wiggles out and breathe in some fresh air.
Hack #4 – Teach the End of Year “Fun” Units
We all have those favorite “fun” units that we love to teach and our students enjoy learning about. The end of the year is the perfect time to bring those units out.
- My favorite is our Once Upon a Stem series. My students really enjoy reading the books, constructing the projects, and discussing their outcomes with classmates.
- “We do an A to Z Countdown for the last 26 days. Such as Art day for A, Bubble day for B, etc.. We try to incorporate math and ELA, along with review topics such as Adjectives for A, Comprehension for C. And you can’t forget to include special snacks!” ~ Foxy Firsties
- Get the ETTC ABC Countdown in our Free Resource Library when you use the code: ETTC2020
- Escape Rooms seem to be all the craze these days, and you can find some really neat ones out there for students that help them review math and ELA standards, while having to work together cooperatively.
- Reading Under the Stars – Invite students to bring in their favorite book, along with a stuffed animal and possibly sleeping bags. Give everyone a flashlight, turn the lights off and watch them read! Kristin H. even takes it a step further with “Camp Skeeter” – “We do tents in the room with everything focused around a camping theme.”
- Take a field trip, or invite guest speakers into your classroom. I always save our Community Helpers unit for fourth quarter and have a “Career Day”, where I schedule a variety of people (parents) to come in and speak with my class. It’s a very memorable experience for many of them.
- Many schools hold a science fair during the fourth quarter. While our school is working on science fair projects, I always teach my Inventors unit, where we learn about a variety of men and women inventors. Students are able to read informational text booklets, answer questions, and complete activities about each inventor and the invention(s) they created.
Hack #5 – End of Year Projects
I always try to do a culminating project with my students before the school year ends. That special activity that they may want to keep to remind them of our school year together.
- Create a Memory Book – Each child gets their own book to complete. Students get to write about their favorite memories in class, specials, and at recess. They have a place to put their class picture and write about field trips taken during the year. It is definitely a keepsake for both the student and their family.
- Set Up an Autobiography Gallery – This is a smaller version of the memory book mentioned above. Students write about themselves (name, age, favorite subject and why, favorite memory of the school year, what they have learned, etc.) They then create a person in the likeness of themselves. I like to start with people cut-outs and have the students use construction paper to design clothes, create hair, and accessories, such as holding a book, ball, etc.
- Graduation Time Capsules – Each child places special objects into a shoe box, creating a time capsule that is to remain closed until they graduate from high school. (Objects include: favorite book, favorite type of toy, listing height/weight, favorite color/food/animal, school picture, etc.) After all objects are placed in the box, it is sealed with glue and the students decorate it.
Hack #6 – Prep for the Next Year
So many of our teachers begin prepping for the next school year during the last few weeks of the fourth quarter. Why you might ask? Let’s see what the experts have to say…
- “Make a big Back to School box to put all things August or September in. Think copy paper size. Print copies, put in blank name tags, etc. This saved me so much time this year!” ~ Kelie D.
- “Start prepping stuff for the following school year! Little by little before the year is over is so much easier than trying to cram it in those few days before school!” ~ Chelsea H.
- “I do a lot of prep for the next year that my students can help with. (Get math boxes ready, check/sort magnetic letters, clean and organize the classroom library).” ~ Lizz M.
- “I try to get all of my journals copied and ready, all my listening center response sheets copied, all my weekly writing prompts copied, all of my word work specific to our weekly words copied… Lots of the little stuff that just takes time each week. I try to get math menus copied as well.” ~ Kristin H.
- “Get copies made that I will use for the whole year, like spelling lists/test papers. Get the first week plans and papers printed because the copy machine is THE place to be at the beginning of the year, so I can avoid that mess by having some stuff prepped and printed already.” ~ Ashley R.
- “I copy all of my Welcome Back packets for Open House night, along with the tags for my Open House gifts to the students and prep those packages. I also love having a Game Day, where the students check all of the games, puzzles, and centers to make sure all of the pieces are there.” ~ Jenn S.
Don’t forget to get your literacy centers copied and organized. I organize my centers by month, so all I have to do is put August/September at the top of the bins. This way it will be easy to pull them out for groups at the beginning of the year.
Hack #7 – Clean Up and Close Up
Cleaning up your classroom can seem like a daunting task, but we have some words of wisdom from veteran teachers to make this process easier.
- “Students help me ‘reset’ by organizing books, checking markers, sorting crayons, etc.” ~ Ashley R.
- “My students toss/recycle tiny crayons, test/recycle markers, organize book bins, spray and clean personal white boards, organize letter magnets, organize math manipulative kits, and even hunt for staples with a magnet. LOL” ~ Michele D.
- “Make sure desks are clean and restock all crayons/glue/markers, etc. with all that I have remaining to make sure it gets used. Send home all work from the quarter. Take down the bulletin boards.” ~ Natalie P.
Hack #8 – Summer Practice for Students
I prefer to send my students off with some summer practice. We offer a FREE Summer Review Packet (Password: ETTC2020) that contains pieces of some of our most loved products. Students can practice fluency, comprehension, and writing skills.
In an effort to encourage my students to come back and see me next school year, I give them a BINGO Board (password to access: ETTC2020) to complete over the summer.
They can bring it to me during the first week of school to pick a prize. (This also gives me all summer to find some neat stuff at the Dollar Store or the dollar aisle at Target.)
Hack #9 – Breathe!! You Made It to the End of the Year
We hope that by following some or all of these tips, you are able to enjoy the fourth quarter.
- Make studying for and taking end of year tests a little fun!
- Teach those “special” units you’ve been waiting to share with your students.
- Enjoy creating End of Year memory projects with your class.
- Defeat “summer brain drain” by using our review packet or BINGO board.
- And most importantly… Get some prep done and leave for the summer stress free!
-Written by Janessa Fletcher
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