The Last 28 Days

Maria Fallon Education, Elementary, Life in the Classroom

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With running records, final assessments, report cards, and oh-so-many other things (all on top of the actual teaching of human beings), the last weeks of school can be hectic, exciting, chaotic, and challenging.
Oftentimes, teachers start a final countdown to summer break with their class, but maybe the final countdown shouldn’t be a countdown at all. Maybe these last 28 days should be packed with amazing learning moments and special classroom memories, experiences, and days that require us (and our students) to be all-in…especially in a year of COVID teaching/learning. Yes, we are exhausted AND yes, these final weeks matter.
One special way I try to make the most of our last weeks together with my second grade students is with our class Reading and Writing Celebration- adding novelty to our (virtual) classroom, bumping up the rigor of our daily routines, and helping connect families to the life-changing learning that takes place in our classroom.
Our Reading and Writing Celebration is one of my favorite events of the school year. It is a time to recognize the transformation and growth in my young readers and writers. It is one of those simple, just-right traditions that allows us (educators, students, families) to pause, reflect, and recognize the efforts of so many in fostering life-long reading and writing habits. We do a lot of preparation for our big-deal celebration.
In a non-Covid year this is how we would prepare: For reading, I pull out all the books we have read together throughout the year. We review the characters, authors, genres, and strategies we have explored and students reflect on their favorites filling out a graphic organizer that they will later share with their families. I would have students fill their book boxes with their favorite books from our classroom library before our reading celebration. For writing, I take out all the books students have published throughout the year. This year we planned, drafted, revised, edited and published personal narratives, memoirs, biographies, habitat reports, fairy tales, and autobiographies. I give students the chance to look over their books and discuss the growth they’ve made, what they’re proud of, and areas they could grow in. Each child chooses one of their own books to share at our writing celebration on the microphone. Students make invitations for their families and plan the menu for our picnic breakfast, including doing the math to figure out how much of each food, drink, and supply we will need.
It’s been two years since I got to have this type of Reading and Writing Celebration (pictured above), but it’s still so important to me to go through the process of reflecting, sharing, and being proud of all the reading and writing we have done in second grade this year. Here’s how I’m planning to make our Reading and Writing Celebration Virtual this year.

  •  We will have our Reading and Writing Celebration on Zoom!
  • We will still look at all the books we’ve read together and fill in the graphic organizers reflecting on our favorite fiction and nonfiction books. I will send these home in students’ learning material packets on bright colorful paper.
  • Students will choose some of their favorite books from home and online platforms, like Epic! Books that we have used this year to read to their families.
  • Students will look through their digital portfolios at their published books this year and choose one to share in our Zoom celebration.
  • I will deliver some special snacks and treats for students to enjoy with their families during our celebration.

I can’t wait to see how this modified version of our Reading and Writing Celebration sparks the same excitement, connection, and sense of pride and growth in my students and their families.

What do you do to make the last months, weeks, and days of school special for your students?

Thanks to my former students and families for providing photographs of our last “normal” Reading and Writing Celebration in May 2019.


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