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36. End of Year Activities
11th June 2024 • The Teaching Toolbox - A Podcast for Middle School Teachers • Brittany Naujok & Ellie Nixon, Podcast for Middle School Teachers
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It's that time of the year when we reflect on all the growth and memories made throughout the school year. But before we get too sentimental, let's talk about some fantastic ways to wrap up the year with our students.

Topics Discussed

  • Reflecting on Achievements & Growth
  • Fun & Meaningful Farewell Activities
  • Setting the Stage for Summer and Beyond

Check out these end of year activity ideas:

If you are a math teacher, take a look at this end of year activity:

If your students love using wheels in the classroom, try memory wheels:

Head to the VIP Vault to access the free reflection materials discussed in this episode:


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Ellie 0:00

Welcome back to the teaching Toolbox Podcast. I'm Ellie, and I'm here with Brittany.

Brittany 0:05


Ellie 0:07

Today we're diving into a topic that is both exciting and bittersweet for educators and of the school year activities for middle school classrooms. It's that time of year when we reflect on all the growth and memories made throughout the school year. But before we get too sentimental about that, let's talk about some fantastic ways to wrap up the year with our students.

Brittany 0:29

First up, let's talk about reflecting on achievements and growth. This is such an important aspect of closing out the school year. It's a chance for students to recognize how far they've come academically, socially, and personally. One activity I love is having students write reflection letters to themselves.

Ellie 0:52

Oh, that's a great idea. I love doing that.

Brittany 0:54

It allows them todocument their progress and set goals for the future. And I usually have them write a letter at the beginning of the school year thinking and talking about what they think sixth grade will be like or that year will be like. So reading that one. And then the one they write at the end of the year usually gives them a kick too.

Ellie 1:17

That's awesome. I used to also have them write one to themselves that I would send to them in the mail before they started the next school year. So like a little bit of reflecting on sixth grade, and then reminders of what they wanted to remember for seventh grade. And then I would send that to them in the mail.

Brittany 1:33

Oh, what I neeat idea!

Ellie 1:34

Yeah, excited about that, and come back and say I got my letter. Of course, you know, most of the time, they don't remember what they wrote. So it's always fun to look at.

Brittany 1:42


Ellie 1:43

Another activity could be creating a classroom timeline, highlighting key moments and achievements throughout the year. This is a little easier if you have class jobs, one of which could be a class historian. Each week, the class historian can fill out a page and a class notebook explaining what happened that week. And they include funny things people say, and the exciting things that happened, class moments and memories, et cetera. And then you have your events for the year already captured.

Brittany 2:12

I love doing that. That sounds fantastic. And it not only reinforces the learning, but it creates a sense of pride and accomplishment for the students. And it builds camaraderie with the kids. Something else I love to do is to celebrate all the accomplishments students achieved throughout the year. I like to go around and collect awards from the music, the PE, the art teacher, the computer teacher, and more. I look for those students who met their reading goals or overcame struggles in reading or math, I calculate grade point averages look at who was you know, first, second, third, but also who was most improved. And then my most favorite of all, is I look at each and every kid and I think about their best character traits. And I celebrate that as well.

Ellie 3:03

That's awesome.

Brittany 3:04

We have a huge certificate celebration, and I talk about each achievement and honor each kid. And their hard work effort and integrity. It's my favorite celebration.

Ellie 3:16

That's awesome. We did awards and certificates to and we had a similar award ceremony with our entire team recognizing very much the same kinds of things. And that was always such a good time, because students would be surprised sometimes to get an award. And you know, if they were the most improved or showed the most effort or had the most positive attitude, that kind of thing. It was always nice.

Brittany 3:36


Ellie 3:37

We also created memory wheels every year, which is a little bit of not certificates, but just another thing I thought about, which highlighted our events from the school year. And I would laminate those and hang them for the following fall for the incoming sixth graders to see so they would see what they had to look forward to in sixth grade. In addition to students reflecting this is a great time for teachers to reflect on their year as well and look at what they feel went well in their year, what areas can be improved and maybe set some goals for next year for themselves.

Brittany 4:10

Yeah, I've got in my free VIP vault on my website. I have a resource called reflection materials, which includes actually a 10 question Google Forms questionnaire for students, and then a four question printable PDF questionnaire for teachers that goes over like what went well, what were your challenges? What are your goals, and what do you want to improve? So that's awesome. And we'll link that in the show notes in case you'd like to use it the end of this year.

Ellie 4:45

Awesome. Moving on to our next point, fun and meaningful farewell activities. How can we make saying goodbye at the end of the year memorable for our middle schoolers? One idea is to organize a class picnic or outdoor game day. This gives students a chance to unwind, enjoy each other's company and create lasting memories. And it gives teachers a chance to connect with each other too, and, you know, enjoy each other's company.

Brittany 5:13


Ellie 5:14

And you could incorporate some reflective activities into the farewell like a memory jar where students write down their favorite moments from the year. Or if you want to do something digital, you could do a memory wall. That's tangible keepsake that students can revisit whenever they want to relive those special memories. Plus, it adds a personal touch to the farewell.

Brittany 5:35

Yeah, I've seen some teachers just use their whiteboard as their memory wall. And then they allow students to take pictures with their phones. So another farewell activity could be a graduation ceremony. If students are leaving that school and they're moving up to the next level. We used to have one in sixth grade, complete with cake, certificates, awards, paper, graduation caps, pomp and circumstance and speeches. I always thought it was quite fun.

Ellie 6:04

Wow, that does sound fun. Sounds like a lot of work, too. But yeah, like it could be worth it. Something similar to that is an end of the year video montage set to music, maybe the most popular songs of that year, you might be able to get a parent to help with that project. But collecting pictures of students in your classroom. And setting into music is always a fun treat to share on the last days of school, one of the teachers on our team would do this for us every year, she will collect pictures from all of us, she was actually really good at remembering to take more pictures during the year than than I was. But she would gather them all put them all together and try to make sure that all of the kids showed up in there somehow. She did such a great job with that. But the kids really love that.

Brittany 6:48

I love video montages and would slowly work on them all year long during different breaks. You know, like Thanksgiving break, I'd work on it, and then Christmas break and stuff. So as things unfolded throughout the year, I would make sure I was trying to capture things.

Ellie 7:05

Good idea.

Brittany 7:06

Lastly, let's discuss how we can set the stage for summer and beyond What can teachers do to help students transition smoothly into the next grade level or into summer break?

Ellie 7:18

One idea is to invite incoming students to visit the classroom, it can ease their nerves a little bit and give them a sneak peek of what to expect in the upcoming year.

Brittany 7:28

That's a great way to build a sense of community and continuity. I found that inviting upcoming fifth or sixth graders up to view and tour of the middle school helps to alleviate fears and trepidation and makes them a bit more relaxed on the first days of school.

Ellie 7:45

Yeah, our incoming sixth graders, all came from different elementary schools, because sixth grade was our first year in middle school. And so they would come and visit and get a tour given by our current sixth grade students, which was great. And they would come in and maybe walk around the room and just kind of say hi, so they at least had some idea. The school is much bigger than where they were coming from in that case. So at least they got a little bit of familiarity with the school. And for students who are moving on to high school, hosting a panel discussion with former students coming back to share their experiences and advice can also give them valuable insights and reassurance to those students as they get ready for that new chapter of their academic journey.

Brittany 8:29

And don't forget that if you have to pack up your classroom or move classrooms, which I had to do nine out of 11 years, you can have your students help with that process as well. They can dust and wipe down books pack non fragile items, label boxes, just don't have them do the heavy lifting or give them knives to cut boxes open, you know nothing that could end up being litigious in the long run right?

Ellie 8:57

Absolutely. Yeah. Students, they just loved helping to take everything down. They love doing that.

Brittany 9:04

Yeah, right.

Ellie 9:05

And there you have it, end of the year, end of the school year activities that are sure to make a lasting impression on your upper elementary or middle school students. Remember, it's not just about wrapping up the curriculum. It's about celebrating the growth, fostering connections and setting the stage for what's to come. Brittany and I each have a blog post or two with end of the year activities, so be sure to check out the show notes for a few more ideas.

Brittany 9:31

Thanks for tuning into the teaching Toolbox Podcast. We hope those tools we discussed today are easy to add to your teaching toolbox. And we would love it if you would please share us on your favorite social media, or give us a review on your favorite podcast platform. Either would be amazing. Until next time, keep inspiring and educating those young minds.

Ellie 9:57

Take care. See you next time.




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