Apr 19

How to End the School Year Strong!

I was so happy to be asked by Larry Ferlazzo to be his Q and A BAM Radio show again! This time we tackled the topic of how to end a school year! I got to be on the show with Pernille Ripp, a teacher I’ve been learning from for years on Twitter and on her amazing blog! It was so cool!

Larry has us submit a written response then we get to record our ideas for the radio show. Here’s what I wrote on his EdWeek Teacher Classroom QandA blog:

Response From Alfonso Gonzalez

Alfonso Gonzalez has been teaching grades 4 to 8 for 25 years. He is a National Board Certified Teacher in the area of Early Adolescent Generalist with a Masters of Arts in Teaching and has completed two ISTE Capstone certifications. He blogs regularly at Mr. Gonzalez’s Classroom:

How do you keep all your students engaged in learning when summer vacation is quickly approaching? I’ve heard it before and I can tell you that it works for me and my students: a project.

Project-based learning or problem-based learning (PBL) has many benefits for ending the year focused on learning and schoolwork instead of watching movies, having parties, and passing the time away until summer vacation starts.

Why PBL? When ending a school year here are the benefits of ending with a project:

  • Students have the potential of being engaged in a project that is based on a real-world, maybe local, problem. That way you don’t have to tell them why they are learning about the topic they are studying, it’s built right into the project! That makes the work students do the last days of school relevant. Relevancy is important.
  • Projects lend themselves readily to collaboration and teamwork. Working with peers is important to students, especially those last days of school.
  • Teams can focus on students’ diverse skills and talents. Teams need a leader, a manager, artists, mathematicians, scientists, engineers, designers, speakers, note-takers, and technologists. Being able to use their skills and talents gives students a purpose and having a purpose is important.
  • Projects have the opportunity to allow for student choice. Even if the teacher chooses the main topic, students can still have choices. Students can choose:
    • Who they work with (let them self-select their teams),
    • What sub-topics they study,
    • How they learn about their topic(s),
    • How they show their learning,
    • What tools, for example, technology, they use to learn and show their learning!

Projects can happen before, during and after standardized testing. If you start a project before testing day it’s easy enough to take time off from the project to do some test prep and make sure students are ready for the tests. On test day it’s actually quite relaxing to sit with project teams, check in and get some work done on the projects. And once testing is over students can focus wholeheartedly on their projects and make sure they finish on time.

And if you build in presentation time and evaluation (self, team as well as teacher evaluation) then the last days of the year will be filled with student presentations and discussions of each other’s projects! I believe it is important to end every school year on a high note and ending with a great project does just that!

Click here to read Permille’s response and Jeremy Adams, the other guest on Larry’s show.

Here’s the radio show (click on the link if you don’t see the embedded radio show below):

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