Monday, June 16, 2014

Highlights From My Last Week

Well, it's officially my first Monday off, which means that another year has come to an end. Our last week was fantastic and I almost didn't feel ready to say goodbye when Friday rolled around. Here are a couple of the highlights from our last week of school:

The Important Book Read-Aloud and Activity

If you haven't read The Important Book yet, you must grab yourself a copy ASAP! This book provokes great discussions about what is truly important. This is a simple book, but it provokes deep discussions. As the first line is repeated in the last line, my students responded, "Didn't the author already say that?" and they asked questions like, "Why is that the most important thing about it?" or "How do they know that this is the most important thing about it?" For example, the author says that a book is important because "it is round", but students wanted to know if it's more important because it can make so many different things. This book is written to invite thought and debate and so it's perfect for a group of fifth grade students about to go in to middle school, because they've started to develop their own opinions and are ready to think critically. 

When we finished the read-aloud and discussion, I gave each student an "Important Book" Paper and tell them that they are going to think about their year with their classmates and identify one thing that is important about each person in the room. They write their name on the front and then pass the paper around the room so that their classmates can each add what they think is most important about that student. They pass them around until the paper has reached the last person. Then, before they get them back, I collect them. I read each one, and add to the back of the card what I think is the most important thing about them. (It's also good to read the back just in case you have someone who tries to be smart-alecky/writes something inappropriate).  I try to make my statement a summary of what most of the students said, but had to add my own when they didn't. Students were so excited when I passed them back, and they had big, huge smiles on their faces when they read what their classmates had written. It's a nice little end of the year activity that makes all the students smile. You can get my activity here:



Here's an example: 
One thing I love about this is the different handwriting from student to student. I think that when the student reads them, seeing all of that different handwriting reminds them that these are all positive comments from different students. 



End of the Year Awards

At the end of the year, I never know what to do in terms of end of year awards. I wanted to do the candy awards, but I had already a goodie bag so it seemed like if I gave candy awards, I'd be giving out far too much sugar and spending way too much money. There are a lot of end of the year awards out there, but so many of the sets that I found just didn't seem to fit any of my students. I always struggle to find the awards that seem personalized for each student. This year, I bought three sets. Set #1 was a fail. Set #2 was a fail. Set #3…drum roll please…was a winner!



A billion, trillion thanks to Mary at Teaching With a Mountain View. Mary has some of the best resources out there. I will need to do a separate post about all of the wonderful early finisher options she has, which happens to be one of my goals for next year! Getting back to the point, I found End of Year Awards Classroom Superlatives Positive for ALL Students and knew I had finally found THE ONE! Her selection of awards is completely awesome. I actually could apply at least two awards to each student with ease, though I only did one. I've finally found the perfect end of the year awards! Hooray!

As if I didn't already love this pack, Mary added a special one for me, Homework Superstar. This year, for the first time in 9 years of teaching, I had a student who did every single homework assignment, on time, for the entire year. WOWZERS! I was blown away. What would I do to recognize this student's efforts so that she would know just how amazing her accomplishment was? Well, Mary added a printable award to her set for me and then I took a trip to the trophy store.


I had her name added above the Homework Superstar, but blurred it for privacy purposes. It cost me $10 and let me say that it was worth every penny to see the surprised reaction and giant smile on her face when she saw me pull it out. My goal was to recognize her and make her feel special for her accomplishment and I know that I accomplished just that! 

End of Year Awards = Tremendous Success! 



A Personalized Thank You Gift From My Students

My students are the sweetest! They've been working all week on a "secret" that I could not know about. All that I knew, is that they had a bag full of index cards. So I was a little surprised on Friday morning when one of my students walked up to my desk and asked if she could speak to the class for a moment. Her and another student pulled this giant green (my favorite color) poster board out. On the poster are index cards that are made in to mini-thank you cards from each student. If I told you that this didn't make me cry, I would officially be lying. I loved this personal gift from my students and I'm currently displaying it in my office at home. I'm going to use it as a reminder that I am truly making a difference. I love that they also made it on my favorite color and added some owls, which has been the theme of our room this year! 



Here are just a few of the adorable notes that they wrote: 




Once again, my teacher heart is warm! I have truly been blessed with amazing students year after year. 

Now bring on the summer! 


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