Teachers familiar with the Responsive Classroom  book The First Six Weeks of School know if offers ways to build fabulous and solid foundation for the start of the school year.  But do you also know it’s just as important to wind down the last six weeks with similar intentions, focus and care?  Planning ahead for the social-emotional learning that happens at the end of the school year helps to successfully and positively wrap things up during the last six weeks of school.  It’s a time to celebrate, while continuing to foster and honor all that you’ve accomplished as a community of learners.   There are many great articles on the Responsive Classroom site  highlight  meaningful and authentic ways to give meaning and closure to the end of the year. (BONUS: A list of some of those  links has been curated and appears at the end of this post.)

Short on time or need inspiration? A cHere are 5 ways to reflect on the year as you wind down the last six weeks of school.


1.Share it! Weave reflection into Morning Meeting with a focused share topic such as:

  • “What was something challenging you did this year?”
  • “What was one way we demonstrated respect for each other?”
  • “What was something you thought would be challenging in fifth grade, but it turns out, you were really good at it?”
  • “What is one piece of advice you’d give next year’s fifth grade?”
  • Or, make it your activity with group charades of highlights from the year (see photo above)

2. Read and Write It! Provide writing and illustrating opportunities – make a class book, individual books or use ReadWriteThink’s Comic Creator to let kids tell their own story of the year, either for themselves or as a legacy to leave for the next class.

3. Get tech-y!  Draft a list of interview questions, with or without input from your students.  Interview each of them and record their response – either to share as a quick video or to transform with IMovie or other software.

4. Chart it!  If you haven’t been keeping a log of songs, energizers, and/or activities you’ve done as a class, do a shared writing to start that list, and then leave it up during Academic Choice, Quiet Time or Settling In for students to continue to add to this list.  You’ve probably got quite a repertoire!

5. Organize it!  Don’t forget to recruit kids to help take care of the class “stuff.”  Children can help organized books and supplies, leave instructions, make the next round of “opening soon” signs to begin to take down their own work to bring home. They can also write a note to a teacher who impacted them this year. Patricia Polacco’s Thank You Mr. Falker as a heart-warming and inspiring jumping off point for this activity.

Need more inspiration, check out Pinterest, a Twitter Chat from Responsive Classroom and a handful of blog posts:

Pinterest – Last Weeks of School

 Twitter Chat transcript – May, 19, 2014

 Ending the Year

Looking Ahead – 8 Tips for Successful Closure to the School Year

Reflecting on Your Teaching Year

The Hummingbird Comes with Poised Attention

Helping Students Maintain a Positive Mindset

A Focused Finish

Check back in a week to read how a fifth grade class revisited hopes and set some new goals for the summer and beyond.


Lisa Dewey Wells


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