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Leaving a Lasting Impression After the Final Bell Rings

Tuesday, April 28, 2015 -- Madison Michell

Schools across the country are in varying stages of closing out the school year. Whether that final day is close enough for you can taste it or still two months away, it’s almost guaranteed that teachers in every school have one thing in common—they know exactly how many days are left before students pack up their backpacks a final time. So what are you doing to make the most of your last days together?

If you take a step back and think about your final weeks, they may include a field trip, awards ceremonies, and perhaps themed movie, game, and activity days. What you may not have considered, however, is using this time to make sure that your students are reflecting on their own progress and taking ownership of their academic goals.

You can’t guarantee that your students’ summer pastimes include reading every day or practicing their math facts, but you can inspire them as the school year winds down. Engage them in activities that stimulate their drive to become self-disciplined, goal-oriented learners on a path headed toward success. To help with this, we recommend focusing on three key areas.

Owning Progress
Do your students know their reading level? How about their strengths and needs as writers? A lot of the data points that once resided only in a teacher’s gradebook should be monitored by the ones sitting in the driver’s seat—your students! If your learners haven’t been maintaining data notebooks, chances are that you at least have some benchmark data they can map now. Even if it’s as simple as reviewing beginning-, middle-, and end-of-year progress in a few critical standards, allow students to physically see their progress laid out in front of them. Map it out in an age-appropriate graph or grid, and lead students in a journal exercise or class discussion about the overarching themes that they notice.

Reflecting on Accomplishments
Reflection should be focused on several different areas. What sort of academic growth did students see this year? How have students become better friends, brothers/sisters, or citizens in their community? What additional responsibilities have students taken on in the last year? All of these answers can be important measures of their personal accomplishments. As human beings, we’re all quick to list out our shortcomings, but reveling in our successes doesn’t often come as naturally. Refocus your students on the importance of citizenship and academics, and their improved sense of self-worth might just impact other areas of their lives in a positive way.

Setting Goals
Take all that your students have learned and accomplished this year, and use that as fuel to help them set goals for the summer and upcoming academic year. Pose questions such as,  “What are you going to do this summer to help prepare for the upcoming school year? How can these summer activities help you work toward your long-term goals?” These objectives may be centered on academic skills, a sports regimen, or even a creative outlet. The key is to give students the opportunity to set a goal that is personal and aligned to their own interests. Actively working toward aspirations is an excellent practice in self-discipline, a skill necessary for students to become independent thinkers and learners.

As the days remaining in this school year grow fewer and fewer, don’t miss out on the opportunity to reengage your students in taking ownership of their academic futures. Check out these additional resources on goal setting and motivation techniques from Oregon State University’s Academic Success Center for more information.

Interested in learning more about how Edmentum’s solutions can help to keep your students’ minds active this summer? Join us for this live webinar on engaging students over the summer with Study Island. You can also check out this brochure for tips on how to stop the summer learning slide!