Finishing the Year

  • Finishing the Year

    Read more on how to implement these tips: 

    Celebrate progress and reflection. Use technology to create digital portfolios or videos showcasing students' growth and progress throughout the year. This will help students reflect on their learning and set goals for the next year. Consider using a shared online space, such as your school LMS or Edmodo, to facilitate reflection and collaboration. Use formative assessments and student data to personalize learning experiences. Let students see how their individual efforts contributed to overall class improvement. 

    Create a class timeline. Have students work in groups to create a multimedia timeline showcasing their learning experiences throughout the year. 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. Encourage them to use digital tools, such as Padlet or Adobe Spark, to create interactive and engaging timelines. 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 and gives students the opportunity to share their unique experiences and perspectives.  

    Have a scientist, engineer, or mathematician come to your classroom.  Invite professionals from diverse backgrounds to share how math is used in their careers. Looks for speakers who represent the cultures and identities of your students. Use video conferencing tools, such as Zoom or Skype, to connect with experts from various industries. This will help students see the relevance and applicability of math in real-life scenarios. 

    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 Notice and Wonder, a computer station logged into Illuminations Interactives, 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! You might also consider hosting a virtual math carnival or "Math Fest" where students can showcase their projects and activities through online platforms, such as Google Sites or Wix. Invite parents and family members to participate by sharing their own math-related projects or experiences.  

    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.  Following assessments or projects, facilitate conversations with students about their learning experience. What went well? What were the challenges? How can they be better prepared for the next time? By valuing their insights, you encourage ongoing improvement and demonstrate the importance of self-reflection. Take advantage of every opportunity to make learning a collaborative and reflective process! Try these things to drive improvement: 

    • Exit tickets with a reflective twist: Move beyond simple summaries on exit tickets! Encourage students to delve deeper into their learning process. How did they approach the problem? What strategies worked well? What could they have done differently? This self-reflection fosters critical thinking and metacognition (thinking about thinking). 

    • Student-led conferences for ownership: Empower students to take ownership of their learning by leading parent-teacher conferences. Students can share their growth portfolios, reflecting on achievements, challenges, and areas for improvement. This fosters responsibility for their academic journey and creates a valuable space for student-parent-teacher collaboration. 

    Become experts! Allow students to choose topics that align with their interests and passions, encouraging them to become experts by researching and presenting their findings through multimedia platforms, such as YouTube or Prezi. Once they have thoroughly researched the topic and understand it well enough to present, let them teach a 10-minute lesson to their classmates or to small groups. 

    Consider having a student "float" between small groups to provide support or another perspective, fostering knowledge mobility. Allow the rest of the class to grade each presentation with a rubric, either created by the students in advance or provided by you. The goal of becoming an expert is to generate interest, motivate students with autonomy, and keep students learning beyond the prescribed content topics! 

    Celebrate student successes. As you reflect on the school year, take time to acknowledge and celebrate the many successes and strengths of your students. This is a wonderful opportunity to reinforce positive relationships and build a sense of accomplishment. We all know students learn and grow at their own pace. Take a moment to write down the positive attributes, skills, and achievements you've observed in each student. You might be surprised by the many wonderful qualities you've overlooked throughout the year! 

    Create fun mathematician certificates for each student at the end of the year, such as a "Positive Mindset Certificate" for someone who is optimistic and resilient. Consider sharing these observations with students, parents/guardians, and colleagues to help them understand the incredible abilities and talents of your students. Sometimes, during transitions to a new grade, teachers might have conversations about a student’s areas for development, but it’s equally important to highlight their strengths and accomplishments. 

    Students OutsideTry 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. Here are some things to try: 

    • Tech-infused learning: Explore the wealth of educational apps, virtual manipulatives, online simulations, and collaborative platforms available to you. Integrate them into your lesson plans to create dynamic learning experiences.  
    • Personalized learning: With the rise of adaptive learning tools, use personalized instruction to support each student's pace and learning style.  

    • Micro-learning and gamification: Break down complex concepts into bite-sized lessons and incorporate game-based elements to boost engagement and knowledge retention. Use fun and interactive methods like game shows such as Jeopardy, online platforms such as Kahoot, scavenger hunts, and escape room activities. These tools make learning more enjoyable and help reinforce the material in an engaging way. 

    • Embrace the outdoors (weather permitting): Take advantage of the warm weather! Conduct lessons outdoors for a change of scenery and to connect students with nature. Utilize augmented reality (AR) apps to enhance the experience.  

    • Alternative assessments: Explore project-based learning, peer assessments, and digital portfolios to gauge student understanding in a more holistic way. Incorporate student interviews and running records to provide deeper insights into their learning process and progress. These methods offer a more comprehensive view of student abilities and help tailor instruction to meet individual needs.