As I write this post, we are doing remote learning. I know the end of the school year is full of celebrations and activities; many of us are sad to see we can't do those activities. However, the activities I do EVERY school year CAN be done remotely. So, read about what I do with my classes during a normal school year and how I adapted it for this school year.
My final two units for the year are Graphic Novels and Fantasy Writing. If there is time, I usually squeeze in a Picture Book unit, too.
Every year my students comment on how fun these are and they wish we did units like them all year. Ah yes, as do I, as do I, but no matter how I slice it, essays are essays!
We all know that kids, especially middle schoolers love memes. Heck, I love memes! There are so many great activities you can do with memes, but I like to save it for the end of the school year.
First, we spend time analyzing the different types of memes. I came up with these classifications in my thorough analysis of memes. Why are they funny? What makes people so interested in classic memes?
Then, students gather images for memes. I try to get them to use this site instead of Google because Google can come up with some weird stuff. I tell them to find images of celebrities, cartoon characters, etc. with emotional reactions. They gather these images and put them in a shared "bank". Once they go to make their meme, they can use any of the shared images.
As for creating the meme, they do this in a template on Google Slides. I call the memes "meme-ories"; the idea here is they make silly memes that reflect on their school year, i.e. memories of the school year.
In a normal school year, I print these out and display them on a bulletin board in the hall. Well, for this year, I will post them on a Padlet to share with staff, students, and parents. (I've actually done that in the past, too, to get them more exposure).
I remember in college, at the end of every course, my professors would hand out fill-in the bubble sheets to analyze the class and the teacher. I loved this idea and have implemented it in my classroom. I create a detailed survey on Google Forms and ask them pointed questions about my ELA class...what would they change? What did they like/dislike? You can create a scale on Forms, too. For example, the students can choose 1 for least likely, and 5 for mostly likely...or something of that nature.
Now, you have to keep in mind these are pre-adolescent tweens/teens filling this out, so they can be brutally honest! They may say things that are simply unfeasible so don't take it all to heart. However, it's a good gauge on how to can adapt your teaching. I always take it as constructive criticism.
I also have them do a self-assessment in a similar fashion. Sometimes, I even send the results to the parents! If you are really on top of things, which I am totally not this year, you can send the results to them at the end of the NEXT school year to see if they've changed at all!
There are tons of memory books on Teachers Pay Teachers and there is a LOT of value to those because it's something they could stick away to look at later in life. However, a digital memory book could still be saved in their Drive for years to come! The other reason I go digital with this is because the kids are SO digital. The memories I include in it involve GIFs, emojis, memes, YouTube, etc.; all-age appropriate.
They can work on this individually or together and it's just a great way to reflect on the year.
Distance Learning Talent Show!
So, I haven't actually done this yet, but the survey has been sent out to my classes. The goal is to have a talent show on Zoom. I was inspired by a student who was noodling on her guitar at the end of "class".
I give them a Google Form with about 14 different talents to choose from. They can add their own, too. I also provide them with planning pages for their talent.
I will update this once we do the "show". Hopefully it'll go well!
Books Read Photo Op
Throughout the entire school year, students record books they are reading in a Reading Record inspired by The Book Whisperer. The goal is for them to read 40 books during the school year. Last year, we spent a day counting up the books and pages read and had a nice photo opportunity! Students would grab a bunch of random books in the back of my classroom and pile up the amount they read in front of them.
I would take the pictures like you see below, print them out at Walgreen's, and send them home to the parents! You can read more about this process here.
This year, I am still brainstorming how to accomplish this remotely. My current plan is to pile up books on my dining room table, give them the sign to fill out digitally to hold up, and I will take a picture of them on Zoom. I will keep you all posted!
Want the sign? You can get it here!
The end of the school year is always a tricky time with students. We want them to be engaged, but we also don't want them to fool around too much! These activities will keep them engaged, have fun, and wrap up the school year on a good note!