Why the Last Three Weeks of School are the Best
The last three weeks of school are the best, and it’s not for the reasons you might think. I’m not talking about doing countdowns and holding awards programs. Instead, the last three weeks of school are the best because they allow teachers time to experiment with new lessons, tools, and procedures they might want to use the next year.
Here are my favorite things to do during the last three weeks of school:
1. Change the order. – You know your day’s schedule and the students do too, but do you wish it could be different? Even just a little? Now is the perfect time to try out some changes. Move your read aloud time earlier in the day or see what math is like split into two blocks. Your current students will be able to handle it and might even appreciate the break from the normal routine. You will see if the schedule you’ve been dreaming about is really better than the one you currently have. Two weeks ago, I tried moving my vocabulary time right after recess. I didn’t like it, but now I know not to do that next year!
2. Move stuff. – Just because the circle table has always been in the corner and the computer cart has always been by the sink doesn’t mean these are the best places for these items. Over the last three weeks, move stuff. Put it somewhere different and see if it’s a more efficient place. This can include student supplies and materials as well. I’m going to move the location where my students store their book baskets because I’m trying to improve the traffic flow during our arrival and dismissal times.
3. Try the tech tool you heard about. – Did you attend a professional development session where you learned about an interesting website? Did you see someone tweet about a tech tool which sounded perfect for your room? Now is the perfect time to try it! Your observations by administrators are likely finished, so there’s no risk in having a technology tool completely ruin a lesson. Try a Chrome extension or app in these final three weeks. Next week, I’m going to have students try creating video blogs about books they have been reading. This might grow into a wonderful platform for students to respond to their reading next year. Or it might flop!
4. Read the picture books you didn’t find time for earlier in the year. I have many favorite picture books, and I incorporate most of them into lessons during the year, either as tools to demonstrate reading strategies or writing mentor texts. However, as I looked at my shelves last week, I kept thinking, “Ohh man…I MUST read this book soon!” The last three weeks are a great time to share your favorites. You are modeling a love for reading that might result in students reading more for pleasure over the summer. This week I’ll be reading Baaa by David MacCauley and Smoky Night by Eve Bunting. My students need to hear these books.
The last three weeks of school give you some of the freedom and opportunity which are sometimes absent during the school year. Resist the urge to put on a bunch of videos or push boring worksheets. Instead, try out something you’ve been thinking and wondering about. It might develop into a staple of your classroom!