Spring fever brings with it a notorious frenzy both in the classroom and at home; It’s the time of year when teachers get exasperated with a room of wiggly students who have trouble focusing. Thankfully, this notorious slump in the academic year can be flipped, and turned into a boon rather than a bugaboo. In fact, the remaining weeks in the semester can be a time for students to set short-term goals, and decide how they want to finish out the year. Parents who broach this subject will send their kids back to school after vacation with a fresh resolve to finish up on a positive note.
From the teacher’s perspective, a go-to for thriving in the last few weeks of the year is to pick a favorite classroom-wide project that can take several weeks to produce, such as a science fair or a theater production.
Below are tips from an elementary school teacher, and over the next two posts, we’ll share ideas from middle school and high school teachers, who all agree that one thing works consistently at this time of year: A change of scenery.
Ms. Kay Kirman veteran teacher of a 4/5 split class at a San Francisco primary school, Miraloma Elementary, catalyzes her class in one collective effort with a Shakespearean play. Her class studies the source material eight weeks before school ends. She assigns parts four weeks in advance, and pull props and costumes together two weeks ahead. In the last week of school, the class performs for the school and for parents. For source material, Kirman turns to Aaron Shepherd’s comprehensive retelling of folktales, 30 Minute Shakespeare series, Folger’s Library teacher series, or a book titled Teaching Shakespeare in the Classroom.
A few other in-class tips will fill the gaps and help keep students on track hour-to-hour until the very end:
- Schedule “Brain Breaks” using online resources, including “Go Noodle” to calm everyone down or get everyone moving.
- Plan a Science Fair the week before school ends where most of the projects are done after school/at home. Students work in groups of up to 4 students to conduct hands-on investigations with pre-approved testable questions, present them to their classmates. One particular tip for planning a science project is to be very clear on how each student will measure and evaluate test results. While professional scientists often encounter valid experiments with negative results, this type of experiment may not be the most positive outcome for a young student’s science project experience Observing a change is more rewarding and less frustrating.
- Take the classroom outside. Sketch the school, clean up the schoolyard, plant plants, create a chalk art mural.
- Perform community service in the school or a nearby park. The school librarian or PE Teacher will always appreciates a little help with spring-cleaning at the end of the year.
Continue reading Part Two for ideas from a Middle School teacher
Image courtesy of Marti McGinnis