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Depending on your district’s policies and the demographic of the parents, you may want to consider letting parents know about your last minute needs. Some parents enjoying donating items to their child’s classroom. In my school, we have a Curriculum Night one evening during the first full week of school. It’s a great time to delineate expectations and establish lines of communication. In a prominent place, I display sticky notes, each labeled with a classroom need (zippered plastic bags, more index cards, etc.). Anything you know you’ll run out of before year’s end can be on this wish list. When you do your class presentation, you can explain what needs the sticky notes represent, along with your reassurance that it’s fine if they don’t take one.

Given the amount of money you’ve probably already spent on your classroom, this can idea keep you from spending even more.

Looking for a way to keep track of your grades, without the drudgery of figuring all of the percentages yourself? Check out this terrific Excel gradebook from Microsoft. It’s easy to use, and it’s free!

http://blogs.office.com/b/office-education/archive/2011/07/26/free-excel-2010-gradebook-template.aspx

The end of the current year is a great time to get organized for next fall. While everything is fresh on your mind, take a couple of days after the students’ are gone and sift through your piles. If you have considered relocating the reading corner, your desk, or a bookshelf, this is the perfect time. Once you return to the room in August, you’ll feel the pressure of the countdown till opening day. Right now, your schedule is hopefully more relaxed, so take advantage of it. Once you do start your vacation, you’ll enjoy it more, knowing that your room is ready and waiting.

Filling the last few days with meaningful material can be challenging. Restless students need to release the extra energy created by summer anticipation. Consider forming small groups and assigning each one a reader’s theater. Make sure there are at least one or two strong readers in each group, define the guidelines, then pass out the scripts. While they practice, you’ll be able to get some last minute grading done. Circulate periodically to check on their fluency, allow them to bring in some simple props and your last day can be productive as well as fun.

If you are looking for a creative way to close out the year, this alphabet countdown could be just the thing – especially for the primary grades. Each day for the final 26 days there is a fun focus. Send a note to the parents so they can be prepared.
A: animal. Bring a small stuffed animal to keep you company today.
B: book. Bring a book to share with a friend during reading time.
C: clean. Clean out your desk today.
D: dance.
E: exercise.
F: face painting day. Ask for parent volunteers and offer suggestions for simple designs.
G: games. Learn some new math games.
H: Hawaiian day. Wear your most colorful island wear.
I: information. Learn something new on a walk around the school.
J: jump. Spend extra time outside with jump ropes.
K: kick. Play a game of kickball outside or in the gym.
L: lunch. Each lunch together in the classroom.
M: move. Change seats, just for the day.
N: new. Make a new friend from another classroom. Send them a handmade card.
O: outside. Spend extra time in the outdoors.
P: picnic. Eat lunch together outside.
Q: quiet. Spend time reading silently.
R: remember. Write a story about your favorite memory from the year.
S: step up. Visit the grade that you’ll be going to next year.
T: teach. Teach the class something you have learned.
U: unhealthy. Okay, it’s your day for a piece of candy.
V: video. Learn something new via video.
W: write. Write a letter to one of the office staff.
X: xtra play. Spend some extra time playing games.
Y: yearbook. Bring yours to sign or use provided paper to collect autographs.
Z: Zoom on out of school into summer!

As you plan out your last few days of school, consider having your current students write a letter to your incoming class.  Encourage them to include what their favorite projects were, what they learned, what they liked most, etc.  Put one letter on each new student’s desk in August as part of your welcome packet.  Ask your most prolific writers to do an extra letter or two, in case you have more students next year.  These letters will not only give you an extra way to greet your new students, they will give you a window into your impact upon current class.

Now that spring allows for more outdoor play, do you find that the transition back to the classroom is difficult for your students?  Do some burst into the room with reports of squabbles?  Do others continue chattering to classmates?  How do you get them to refocus for the afternoon? 

A fixed routine will help your students get back into rhythm.  Some teachers reserve 10 minutes after recess for a read aloud time.  Others play soft classical music while students finish any undone morning work.  A bathroom break works for some classes.  Reading around the room helps some students settle into “learning mode.”  Whatever method you choose, a routine will reinforce that it’s time to get back to work.

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