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End of the Year Favorites

THE END OF THE SCHOOL YEAR IS _________________!  {You fill in the blank}

No matter what word you choose, the truth is that the end of the school year is coming.  Every year I strive to help my students reflect on their growth, and build confidence in themselves as they move on to the next grade.

With only 15 days left, I really need to be selective in my activities!  Without question, they have to be meaningful and encourage self reflection.  However, it is always nice to include some activities that can serve as a keepsake too!  Here are my Top 3 for this year!

1.  The Best Part of Me
I love this book by Wendy Ewald.  The photographs are stunning, and I love the range of authentic writing from children. The fact that it is children's words in their own handwriting is a great motivator for students.  After we read the book, I have students share what they believe is their "best part."  We use the graphic organizer below to help them think of supporting details that explain why it is their best part.

Students use the ideas from their organizer and expand upon them.  I have students complete a first draft and a final draft {completed with a felt tip pen}.  

I take a photograph of their "best part."  I use iPhoto to adjust the photograph and make it black and white.  This not only makes for a gorgeous finished product, but it also means that I save on color ink!

Here are some finished products:

2.  I Am Poems
These poems provide thought-provoking prompts and encourage self reflection.  I have modified the standard "I Am Poem" template to specifically focus on end of the year reflection.  I print these on 8.5x11 paper, and place it on the bottom of a 12x18 piece of construction paper.  At the top, I include a large "end of the year photograph" for each student.

3.  My Kind of Smart
I use this activity to help students reflect on how they learn best.  It also serves as a great item to send along to their new teacher.  This activity is based on Howard Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences.  As a teacher, I feel that I am constantly assessing students understanding, monitoring progress, and analyzing their work habits.  Not often enough do I stop and ask them to share their thoughts of how they learn!  Well, this activity is a perfect way for students to reflect on their year of learning and select three "smarts" they feel are an area of strength.  It also asks them to identify one area for growth.  Finally, it asks them to recognize an area of strength in one of their peers.  I feel that this question is a wonderful way for students to connect and promote positivity.

I am excited to see how this year's group engages in these activities.  Knowing that this may be my last class of first graders, I feel the need for it to be extra special!

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