Tag Archives: end of year

Reflecting with Hexagons

I think that the deepest discussions I ever hear in my classroom happen when we do Hexagonal Thinking.  If you haven’t heard of this strategy, I explain how I use it with my 4th graders in this blog post.  Last year, I did a post on using Hexagonal Thinking to reflect on the school year.  In the past, my 3rd-5th graders have used Hexagonal Thinking.  This year, on a whim, I decided to try it with my 2nd graders.

My 2nd graders have never done an activity like this before.  It was our last day of class together, and I wanted to help them sum up the things they have learned in our Gifted and Talented class this year.  Because they were new to Hexagonal Thinking, I conducted the activity in a slightly different way.

First, I went to this awesome Hexagon Generator, and asked the class to help me brainstorm words that represented things they have learned in GT.  Here is what they came up with:

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I did this right before their recess time, so I could make some quick copies for everyone while they played.

When we got back to the classroom, I paired up the students and gave them the paper.  Now this is where I really departed from my traditional lesson.  Instead of asking them to cut up the hexagons and place them where they wanted on a new sheet of paper, I asked them to make connections between words that were already sharing sides.  We went over a couple of examples so they could understand that I didn’t want them to say things that used the words in the explanation, (such as creativity goes with problem solving because you need to be creative to problem solve) but to think about the qualities that each word shared.

You know how you sometimes come up with an idea right before class and you start executing the idea and realize about 3/4 of the way through explaining it that it was the dumbest idea ever and now you need to figure out how to get through the next 45-minutes without anyone crying – including you?

That’s how I felt as I started monitoring the partner discussions.  Expecting 2nd graders to “go deep” on the last day of class was not a brilliant decision on my part.  There were comments like, “Well, bridges goes with stability because they need to stay up or they will fall down.”  True, but not what I was going for.

And then something kind of magical happened.  I heard partners saying, “No, no, that’s not what she wants.”  And I started reading some of their notes.  And I realized that these kids can think deeper than I can when given the opportunity.

A few of their comments:

  • Stability and Support – “You have to be strong and stand up for your friends.”
  • Creativity and Perspective – “You have to think the way others think to make them happy.”
  • Perseverance and Adaptations – “They both don’t give up trying to survive.”
  • Perseverance and Adaptations – “Sometimes you need to change to work together.”
  • Ethics and Perspectives – “When you don’t look at different points of view, sometimes you get in a fight.”

You can see the working drafts one pair used below.

The great thing about this activity was hearing the students use the vocabulary, like “ethics” and “perspectives” correctly, and being able to tell from their comments if they really understood these topics.

If you still have some time with your students before closing out the year, I definitely recommend this activity!

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PicCollage Game Boards

The PicCollage (or PicKids) app is a versatile tool that my students have used for reflection, creating visuals for a report, and telling stories.  Recently, I’ve seen a couple of different articles on the web about students and teachers using PicCollage to make game boards.  This can range in educational value from creation for fun all of the way to another way to assess learning.  In all cases, creativity can be a part of the activity as students can personalize the boards with photos, stickers, and text.  For some examples and specific integration ideas, check out these two blog posts: “Digital Game Boards with PicCollage” and “Creating and Playing Games on PicCollage.”

Mindset Monopoly
Mindset Monopoly Game created by some of my 3rd Graders (using some Mandala images made by my 4th graders!)

#Awards

One of my absolute favorite bloggers, Joelle Trayers, posted some pictures last week of some Hashtag Awards her Kinder students designed for themselves.  Of course, I couldn’t wait to try the idea myself!  I met with my 1st graders today, and we had a short discussion about hashtags.  Then they designed their own hashtag awards.  In a way, this is similar to a 6 Word Memoir activity because it helps me to learn so much about what is important to my students and how they see themselves.  I might try this at the beginning of the year next time!

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More End of the Year Stuff

This is a reblog of a post that I did a couple of years ago, but it was originally titled, “Alternatives to Showing the Movie Frozen for the Next 14 Days.”  Since that movie is kind of over now, I came up with a more fitting title for my recycled material 😉

yearend
image from Live Life Happy on Flickr

You know how it goes.  Grades are turned in.  Textbooks have been collected.  The computer lab is shut down.  But the activity level of our students has gone up.  What’s a teacher supposed to do?

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I’ve been trying to get my students to reflect on the year.  Using our class blog as a reference has helped tremendously.

Yesterday, with my GT 1st graders, I also asked them to look through the blog posts for their grade level.  They used a simple printable I found from Laura Candler to write their favorite moments of the year.  Here are some examples:

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Using divergent thinking for activities like the Squiggle Challenge and S.C.A.M.P.E.R. were very popular with this class.  Speaking of S.C.A.M.P.E.R., here is what some of them did with a page from my Summer Pool Party S.C.A.M.P.E.R. packet – Put an inflatable pool cushion to another use. (By the way, all of my grade levels, K-5, love doing S.C.A.M.P.E.R. drawings!)

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One of the blog posts the first graders “re-discovered” as they reflected was this one.  Try showing the Kid President video at the bottom of that post, and see if your own students can add to the list.  We used Padlet, but old-fashioned pencil and paper works, too!

Here are some other ideas from past posts for making the last couple of weeks fun and engaging:

I would also recommend checking out the Not Just Child’s Play blog by Joelle Trayers for ideas.  That woman always has creative suggestions that can be modified for any elementary grade level!

DriveSlides

The Guru of Everything Google, Alice Keeler, partnered with Matt Miller to publish the DriveSlides Chrome Extension, which is available for free on the Chrome Web Store here.

Near the end of the school year, many teachers like to make slideshows of pictures from throughout the year.  With DriveSlides, Keller and Miller have given us a tool that will make this process much faster if you want to use Google Slides.  Once you install the DriveSlides extension, open the folder in Google Drive that contains all of the pictures you want to put in your presentation.  Click on the extension icon in your toolbar, and watch the magic happen.  (You will need to allow permissions the first time you use the extension.)  After a slight pause, a new window will open and automatically create a Google Slideshow with all of the pictures in that folder.

My whole family gathered around as I made this quick demonstration with pictures of our family bulldog, taking mental notes so they could use the extension too. (I added the background after the pictures were all imported, using suggestions from the Google Explore Tool.)

If you want to add audio to your slideshow, here is some advice from Richard Byrne.

Keeler also has another Chrome Extension called, “Slideshot,” which will take screenshots every minute and create a slideshow out of those when you hit “Finish.”

Want some more ideas for the end of the school year?  Check out this post!

Hexagonal Reflections

One of the things I wanted to try this year was to ask my students to do hexagonal thinking as they reflected over what they had learned.  Since my 4th graders had already done some hexagonal thinking this year, I thought they might like to experiment with this activity.

First, they visited our class blog where I have been posting pictures from throughout the year.  I showed them how to filter the categories to find all of the blog posts from their class.  Then they chose pictures that were meaningful to them and saved them to their home drives.

After choosing 4-5 pictures, the students signed in to my account on Canva, and created their own blank “A4” projects.  Once the project opened, they were directed to use the search window to find a hexagon frame.  In Canva, frames have a cloud and blue sky in them.

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What I like about frames is that you can drag pictures into them, and they will take the shape of the frame without overlapping.

After the students added a hexagon frame, they resized it and copied it so several could fit on one page.  Once their frames were arranged, they uploaded their pictures and set them in the frames.  Then they used text designs to explain the connections between pictures that shared sides.

You can see a couple of examples below.  They would probably make more sense if you had been in my class this year, but this gives you the general idea.

This went better than my last visual hexagon activity, but I think I will improve it next year by giving a few more guidelines for the “connector” texts so the students will try to find unique parallels that aren’t readily apparent.

For more ideas for end-of-the-year activities, here is a recent post I published.

Olivia

Audrey

Give Them a Surprise Ending (Reblog)

As the conclusion of another school year approaches, I thought it might be fitting to re-publish this post from last year with suggestions for ways to end the year “strong.”

I always laugh when people say that we should end school earlier in the year because the last few weeks are a waste.  What do they think would happen if school stopped in April?  Somehow I doubt the teachers or students would be any less eager for the last day.  The way I see it, the only way to fix this problem is to never have a last day – or to never tell anyone when it is.

“Ok, boys and girls.  Bus riders are dismissed and so are car-riders and walkers. Oh, and by the way, there’s no school for the next 2 1/2 months.”

Yep.  That would go over well.

A surprise end-date probably won’t get the approval of any school board on this planet, so I recommend a surprise ending, instead.

What do I mean?  I mean, don’t resort to the predictable, let’s-show-movies-and-wear-pajamas-and-read-all-day plans that are the fallback for so many teachers this time of year.  This is your time to M. Night Shyamalan your way into teaching fame!  (But not in a spooky “Guess what, you’re dead, too,” way – more in a “School is way more than filling in bubbles on a piece of paper” way.)

How can you surprise them?  Here are some activities that could make the highlight reels of your students’ year.

What suggestions do you have to make these last days memorable for your students?  Put them in the comments below!

End the year like this... (image from Tetsumo on Flickr)
End the year like this!
(image from Tetsumo on Flickr)