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Friday, May 12, 2017

Bringing the Year to a Successful End: Final Focus

In a dedicated system like the one I teach in, the end of the year is filled with a large number of amazing events. The end of the year includes lots of standardized tests too, and many children are up later at night due to their own special events and affiliations outside of school. It's a busy time of year, and a time of year where teachers and parents have to be very mindful of pacing, student support, and right focus.

Thanks to our shared teaching model, I find that our collaboration is helping to keep the pace and support strong. Together, we do better, and I'm so happy about this--it's much better than the one-teacher-one-classroom model for so many reasons.There is strength in numbers and that is demonstrated as we help one another teach our 72 fifth graders with strength.

So as I focus in, I want to be cognizant of the following:

Science MCAS Review
Since the 5th grade MCAS includes K-5 science standards, there's a lot to review. We're using this review to make our classrooms science-centered with short videos, hands-on activities, more nature talk and walks, science reading, and science writing.

Final Math Tests
All math standards have been taught, and students will take a final test of all those standards next week. After that the math study will be incorporated into STEAM activities and math tech practice.

Biography Project: Global Changemakers
Students are reading, researching, and taking notes now. They're also working on related art and tech projects too. Later, they'll begin their writing and create their costumes. After that they'll practice their living history presentations. This is a signature fifth grade event that culminates in a final presentation timeline where children line up dressed in costume of a global changemaker past or present they identify with and share their reports with family members, friends, and school mates.

Fifth Grade Play
The fifth grade musical is a terrific exercise in teamwork, talent, and the arts. Children all shine thanks to the thoughtful, artistic efforts of our music teacher. There are many practices and the lifelong learning that results from this play is amazing.

STEAM Projects
Part of our science study includes a number of hands-on STEAM projects which students really enjoy. Those projects will extend right up to the final days of school. As part of this study, we may visit the high school's innovation center and get a good glimpse of the exciting STEAM study ahead.

Instrumental Concerts
The majority of our students take instrumental lessons in and out of school. At the end of the year, many of those students perform in a culminating band and orchestra performance that is always amazing. Students are busy now working up to those concerts.

Special Events
There are a number of visiting artists from upper grade schools in the system visiting us in the weeks ahead, and we are going on a couple of great field studies too.

Field Day
This is the culminating event for our physical education program, and a favorite day for many students as the whole school comes together to play countless imaginative and traditional games.

Fun Day, Slideshow and Clapout
Since it's fifth grade and students will be moving on to the Middle School, our final day is a day of fun, a parent-teacher-student slideshow of the students' elementary school experience, and the clap-out where all the children of the school line the halls and clap-out the fifth graders.

As you can see it's a busy minute-to-minute agenda for all, but also a wonderful, playful agenda filled with wonderful learning events.