The end of the school year does not mean an end to our learning. But don't fight your students' needs at this time of year - embrace them. The end of the school year naturally lends itself to certain innate social emotional skills. So as educators, we can use these natural learning moments to teach skills.
Student reflection transforms academic experiences into genuine, lifelong learning. Reflections helps students to focus on individual values and goals, develop higher order thinking skills, and make connections to and problem solve larger social issues. Reflective learning supports students in stepping back from their learning experiences and use developed critical thinking skills to improve on future performance through analysis of what has been learned and how far the student has come in pursuit of goals.
By helping Special Education students reflect upon their school year, we support their understanding of a correlation between effort and achievement. Our students with learning disabilities are constantly bombarded with their struggles, reflection helps them to focus on their achievements. It also lets them see the outcomes of their hard work and praise themselves for this effort. This reflection allows learners to further develop their understanding of themselves as a learner as well. Through this analysis, students strengthen their problem solving skills through analysis of achievements and a plan to get to the next level of their goals.
Use the Rose, Bud, Thorn activity to prompt student reflection. Here’s how it works! Ask students to reflect on this past school year. What would be their Rose, Bud, Thorn?
Rose - What is the best thing that happened to you this school year?
Bud - What is something that happened this year that you are looking forward to happening again next year?
Thorn - What is the worst thing that happened to you this year that causes you to set a goal for next year?
This reflection challenges students to become aware of their own thinking processes, learn about themselves and how they learn. The next step in reflection is to take what you have learned and improve upon learners’ academic and emotional skills! Students do this by setting goals.
Reflection enables educators to assess the "why" and "how" of the learning. What needs to be done as a result.
Research shows that general growth mindset interventions have been found to have a weak relationship between mindset and academic achievement (Sisk, et. al, 2018). However, they are most effective when paired with oral and written reflection. So after students write about their reflections of the school year, further reshape student mindset by asking students to set goals based upon their reflections.
Ask students to ask themselves, “What is my goal for next year?”
Check out my end of year goal setting project:
In this resource, students set a bucket list of goals! First, students will SET goals for themselves by generating a bucket list. They will then RESEARCH their goals. Finally, they will WRITE about how to achieve these goals using informational text structures.
End of Year Learning Projects!
Like I said, learning does not have to stop at the end of the school year. In fact, it should NOT stop. Students should continue learning. By maintaining the learning focused environment that students have felt safe in all school year, educators will see less acting out behaviors. Now, with that said, you can still instill some fun into the learning! Here are some end of year learning activities:
-Teacher for a Day!
-Become a Children’s Author
-Talk Show “Expert” Panel
-Classroom Book Clubs
-Book Hall of Fame
-Classroom People of the Year
-Round Robin Writing Fun
-End of Year Math Idea
-Good Old Stand-By’s
-Mentor Tips Activity
Grab these projects here:
~By Miss Rae