I think the last week is always a lot of fun. I feel like at this point I can truly relax with the kids and enjoy them. No pressure to adhere to standards; testing is well over. No pressure to adhere to routine; their routines will change next year anyway. No pressure to mold these children into better citizens; they already know. A knowing look or a good-natured joke as a gentle reminder is all they need. My job is basically done, and I know the wonderful 5th grade teachers will pick up where I left off so that I can pick up where the third grade teachers left off in a couple months. It feels so great to end this chapter, have a break (buy myself an end of the year present) and look forward to next year!
So what do we do to wrap up the year when there are no more standards to teach and test? Oh sure, we collect textbooks (checking book numbers and collecting them in reverse alphabetical order so they're easier to redistribute next year). And I have the kids empty their desks and bring their notebooks home (they were more excited about that than anything else). I even brought my Dust Buster so they could vacuum inside (of course they loved that)! And I enlist the kids' help with clean up (I even have end of the year task cards I've used for the past 2 years). But my favorite part of the week is our portfolio/scrapbooks.
These have taken many forms over the years, but they always involve:
* Reflection sheets
* Sheet protectors (so pages can be "double sided")
* Decorative borders
* Photos from class parties, field trips, and other special events
* Binders to keep it all in
The decorative borders are a lot of fun to make; each child makes a paste paper, I chop them into strips, and they get to share with each other.
The scrapbooks are of course going to be a treasured keepsake to look back on. For a few of them. I've learned that craft projects are not for every kid, and these books are no exception. And reflecting (in writing) is just as painful for some kids as any other writing assignment. But looking at those photos brings back happy memories for EVERY kid. They start wonderful conversations, "Hey, remember when...." They give the kids the time and space to look at their fourth grade experience with rose colored lenses. And when those kids who don't like writing or crafts need a break, I hand them a task card to help me clean up for a little while.
We also had fun this year since the kids earned their marble jar reward (they voted for a movie, and that movie was "Flushed Away.") I split my time between enjoying it with them and leaving them with an aide so I could watch my kiddos from last year at their "Moving On Ceremony." I surprised them with ice cream sandwiches before I left since it was well over 90 degrees in our classroom. It was kind of perfect, because as kids in the other fourth grade class finished their work, the substitute allowed them to come over and watch the movie with us, so by the time I got back there were nearly 40 kids, content and relaxed after a tiring day of cleaning, organizing, and reflecting.
I promise I'll go back and upload pictures of those scrapbooks and paste papers for this post another day, but for now you can pop over to All Things Upper Elementary for a quick post about my last day of school (or at least, what I have planned for it).