Wrapping Up the Year

Somehow, it’s really coming — the end of the school year, that once seemed so far away, is now approaching at a blistering speed. We have only seven days left at my school — but one of them is our field day and another is just a half day. So, we’re really down to the wire. I’ve been trying to think about how I can bring closure to what has been an up-and-down year — but I’m already recognizing that things probably won’t tie together with the neat bow that I would choose if I had it my way.

Here’s what I’ve got planned for wrapping things up:

  • Books You Can’t Leave Second Grade Without Knowing About!: I started this activity this past Monday, and my students are loving it. I am a children’s literature enthusiast, and I found myself getting very frustrated that I couldn’t make certain outstanding books “fit” with what we were studying throughout the year. So, I’ve started a countdown of the best 10 books that we haven’t read this year. Each day, I read a new one to my students — their attention and conversations following the stories have been impressive and quite sophisticated. They especially enjoyed “Wilma Unlimited,” which I read earlier this week.
  • Portfolio Browsing: Next week, my students will review all of the work that they’ve put into their portfolios this year. They will choose three pieces that reflect “best effort work” and will justify their selections. I am eager to see what they choose and how they will reflect upon and describe their hard work.
  • Letters to Next Year’s Students: I don’t know where I first came across this idea, but I think it’s a nice way to recognize successful completion of the year and to “pass the torch” of their acquired expertise to the students who will follow them. I am very excited to see what my students choose to include as advice for next year’s students!
  • Choosing Adjectives: To make sure that all feedback on their performance this year isn’t coming from me, I am going to have my students work together as a class to choose a positive adjective that describes each of their peers. I expect that seeing all the ways in which their peers see them will have a big impact on my students. Too often, kids, like adults, often focus on the negative, so it is my hope that this activity will leave them thinking positive thoughts about each other.
  • Blog Review and Slideshow: I am so happy that I had my students keep a blog this year. It was a great opportunity for them to have authentic writing experiences and to engage with a real-world audience. Additionally, it will serve as a kind of scrapbook of our year. We’ll be able to look through all of our old entries, look at our photos, and watch the videos to relive the school year. I think it will be wonderful!
  • Curious Questioner Certificates: On our last half day, each student will receive a certificate. I have worked very hard to choose accolades that aren’t specifically tied to academics, but rather to positive qualities that each student exhibited during the year. This way, hopefully students will really take home the message that character is just as — if not more — important than academic ability.
  • Special Books: As their sendoff into summer and end-of-year gifts, each student will get a book from me — carefully chosen to reflect his or her interests. I hope that these will be “special books” that my students will keep on their shelves long after second grade.

It is so odd to think about wrapping up the year. I know that no matter how much more time we had together, I would still have this feeling on seeing them leave that “there is so much more that I want to say to you.” I can already tell that I do not like the end of the school year!

What do you do to make the end of the year special for your students? Do you have any year-end traditions?


3 thoughts on “Wrapping Up the Year

  1. Kate June 6, 2014 / 2:34 pm

    I have really enjoyed reading your blog this year! I found it via The Horn Book blog. I am just a mom, not a teacher, but I wonder if you would share the other 9 books you are reading in the last 9 days? I read Wilma Unlimited with my kids (ages 7 and 4) a few months ago and we really loved it.

    • Cultivating Questioners June 9, 2014 / 11:48 am

      Hi Kate — thanks for leaving a comment. I am so glad that people are using the Horn Book Blog, it’s such a great resource.

      I am more than happy to share the other books with you. Here they are! My grand total wound up at 11, so there’s even a bonus book!

      – Grace for President – Kelly Dipucchio
      – The Paper Bag Princess – Robert Munsch
      – Freedom Summer – Deborah Wiles
      – Glass Slipper, Gold Sandal – Paul Fleischman
      – Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge – Mem Fox
      – The Keeping Quilt – Patricia Polacco
      – As Fast as Words Could Fly – Pamela Tuck
      – Each Kindness – Jacqueline Woodson
      – Miss Rumphius – Barbara Cooney
      – Magnus Maximus, A Marvelous Measurer

      I hope there’s something here you haven’t seen and that you’ll enjoy!

      • Kate June 10, 2014 / 1:36 pm

        Thank you so much! We actually have not read any of these books. I’ve already put a few on hold at our local library. I really appreciate you taking the time to record this list.

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