As the school year comes to a close, teachers are already thinking and planning for next year. We, as teachers, look forward to a fresh start and are trying to remember all the mental notes we took during the school year about what to do differently to make next year even better. We encourage teachers to make time at the end of the year to reflect and set goals. It is a good time to teach students to do so as well.
Kristen Mullen is a veteran elementary teacher in PA and a friend of ours. Like most teachers, we like to share our ideas, and Kristen told us about an idea for an end of the year reflection. Although she has always conducted a class discussion about end-of-the-year thoughts: growth, difficulties, wishes, etc., she wasn’t exactly satisfied with this activity because not everyone participated in the thinking and sharing. So, at the end of last school year, she decided to try to remedy this by following up the group discussion with a writing assignment.
Kristen reported that she was really happy with this approach. She believed that her students had done some meaningful reflection, and as an additional benefit, she was able to read the students’ thoughts and use them to help her with her own end-of-the-year reflection and goal setting for next year.
Kristen asked her students to reflect on their year and to share their thoughts in the form of a letter. She provided a list of reflective questions to help guide their thinking. The first version was appropriate for her 3rd graders. With Kristen’s permission, we adapted it for younger students, and of course, you can modify it for your group of students. You could even reword the directions to make the assignment specific to a particular content area. We encourage you to choose writing! 🙂
End of Year Letter – writing assignment for grades 3-5Assignment: Think about everything you have worked on and learned this school year, then write a letter to me. The letter should have several paragraphs and include your thoughts about the following:
- Your greatest accomplishment (the area in which you grew the most)
- Something that you are better at now than at the beginning of the year
- Something that is still challenging for you
- Advice you have for me as a teacher
- Anything else you want to tell me
End of Year Letter – writing assignment for grades K-2Assignment: Think about everything you have worked on and learned this school year, then write a letter to me. In the letter tell me:
- One thing you can do now that you couldn’t do at the beginning of the year (or something you are better at now)
- Something that is still hard for you
- One thing you would change about this school year
- Anything else that you would like me to know
For Kindergarten, you might choose a question from above each day and ask students to respond in their writer’s notebooks. Or, think about using your end of the year conferences as a time to reflect 1:1 with each student and jot down some notes for yourself.
We hope Kristen’s experience helps you create a meaningful ending to this school year and that you learn something about each of your students (and yourself too). Happy Summer!
How do you encourage end-of-the-year reflection? Shoot us an email at [email protected] and we will share your ideas in a future blog.