By Dr. Stephanie Knight
Adjunct Faculty, College of Education
You’re in the HOME stretch.
This is the period between the last turn to the winning line. How can you assure that your year finishes on a high note? The last couple months of school can be chockfull of momentous experiences, or conversely can be filled with wishes of it all to be over. It’s all up to you.
SPRING into action now!
“S”tart a New Daily Activity
Shake it up a bit. When students enter the classroom, have the lights off and share with them a story. Upon the story, they are to take out their journals and jot their thoughts for five minutes. This works well to get their blood pumping and the dendrites fluttering. Also, it is a great way to begin a lesson. They can refer to their writing or they can add to it with their shoulder partner.
“P”lan Breaks Often
Our brains need to have breaks to retain focus. It’s been said that lack of motivation can set in easily after 15-30 minutes of an activity depending on the age of the student. Therefore, a quick, “hand up stand up pair up” with a cooperative learning strategy can get the students focused and excited again. It only has to be a three to five minute session. Including music or a fun question to ask your paired partner can make it fun as well.
“R”efresh Your Walls
Do your walls suffer from “been there done that?” I like my classroom wall to do the talking or teaching when I am not. Another way to look at it is that it can be a museum for educating. So, change it up and add a new dimension to shake it up a bit. Maybe make a new celebratory gallery of your students’ best work.
Grab a small nerf-type ball and use it when you want to ask a question after you lecture. Then turn it over to the students for a timed pair share. Partner A shares then after 30 seconds, partner B shares. Then toss the ball again to see what the partners discussed.
The last part of the year should be a time for their creativity to shine yet not forsaking the curriculum standards. An alphabiography is one project that incorporates all the genres of writing with a creative flair. Students then assemble their book of letters, decorating at the end. For example, they make a list of things that are important to them A-Z. A could be Aggie their dog. Then, that page would be a story or poem about Aggie. Likewise, B could stand for bass guitar. The student would then share his passion for playing this instrument via a persuasive piece.
“G”et Organized for Summer and Next Year
Finally, these last few weeks can be a prime opportunity to start planning for the coming year. What do you want to accomplish that first week? What do you need to do over the summer to get ready? You can take this time to give surveys to students about lessons they remember and why they enjoyed them. Get your filing in order so you can start the new school year out with confidence and intentionality.
These SPRING tips should keep you rounding that corner to the finish line with enthusiasm from your students, thereby finishing strong. Spring into action now!
To learn more about Grand Canyon University’s College of Education and how it can help you impact the lives of students, visit our website or click the Request More Information button on this page.
More About Dr. Knight:
Dr. Stephanie Knight is an experienced 7th and 8th grade English language arts educator. She taught in Title One schools for eight years—helping them grow from underperforming to excelling—and then in an independent school for four years. Knight is now is part of Grand Canyon University’s adjunct faculty where she teaches graduate level education and reading courses.