Finishing the Year

  • Celebrate progress. If you started off the year with a pre-test to assess where your students were starting from, give it again at the end of the year. This will allow your students to see how much they've learned over the course of the year. Both you and your students can celebrate the satisfying feeling of achievement.

    Create a class timeline. In groups, have your students brainstorm to come up with a historic timeline for your class. Give vague guidelines such as, "See if you can think of 10 topics that we learned this year and put them in order." Perhaps, also suggest that each group include an example problem for each topic or some other illustration to "show" the topic. This will not only get your students thinking about what they learned in your class, but it can also be used as a review activity.

    Have a scientist, engineer, or mathematician come to your classroom. Arrange for a professional from the field to come talk to students and describe or show how math is used in their career. Visit the The Math Forum to find a related activity to do before, during, or after the visit.

    Hold a math carnival. Invite family and friends to your classroom or collaborate with other teachers to make it a school effort! Allow students to choose projects or activities of their choice to showcase. Set up stations that lend themselves to collaboration on exciting real-world problems and simulations. For example, a middle school carnival might include a station with problems from Figure This!, a computer station logged into Caculation Nation, and another station stocked with the materials to carry out the Illuminations lesson on Barbie Bungee. Math, refreshments, and music combine to create a fun and exciting close to the school year!

    Keep expectations high. Students are constantly getting cues from their teachers. Make sure you are giving positive ones! Maintain high expectations for student performance and behavior by setting a good example yourself. Show excitement in the mathematics content even after standardized testing by choosing engaging activities. Don't let your students pick up on how anxious you are for summer to start!

    Encourage Reflection. After an assessment or the culmination of a project, have a conversation with your students about what went well, what went wrong, and how to be better prepared for the next time. We always want our students thinking about improvement, and we need to help them along the way. As a bonus, if students see that you are valuing their feedback, they will want to work harder for you as well! Take advantage of every teaching moment you can!

    Become experts! Allow your students to choose a topic that they will become an expert in. Once they have thoroughly researched the topic and understand it well enough to present, let them teach a 10-minute lesson to their classmates. It is good to have a list of suggestions for your students, but be sure to allow them to go outside your list. Consider allowing the rest of the class to grade each presentation with a rubric that either the students create in advance or that you give them. The goal of becoming an expert is to generate interest, motivate students with autonomy, and keep students learning beyond the prescribed content topics!

    Present the best in your students. Okay, admit it, you've witnessed a conversation about what a challenge a particular student will be as he or she continues to the next grade. Students live up to the expectations of their teachers. Stick to the facts when discussing incoming or outgoing students, and remember, just because a child is a problem for one teacher does not mean that he or she has to be a problem for another. Take a moment to write down a few good things you've learned about each of your students over the course of your time with them. Consider sharing these thoughts with students, parents, and even their teachers for the next year.

    Try something new! Remember that grouping strategy that you swore you were going to try this year, but that somehow slipped your mind? Go find it and give it a try! It is never too late to try new things with your students. New groupings, different activities, class outside in the warm weather, a different mode of testing - all provide needed stimulation for you and your students. Who knows? Your new strategy may work so well that it becomes part of your routine for next year.