How to End the Year Well: 10 Tips for Surviving May
Inside: End of the year activities for the Spanish classroom.
May is what it is, right? Your schedule is probably getting even crazier than your students. Some days half the class is gone for testing or field trips, and special assemblies and special events pop up right and left.
How do you reign in the chaos, maintain your sanity, and make these last weeks meaningful?
The truth is, I don’t have a magic formula for you. The end of the year really is crazy, and it’s not you. All teachers, even the veterans, are feeling it.
But I do have some tips for making the best of it, and to help you brainstorm ideas if you feel like you’ve run out of them!
First, here are three mistakes I’ve personally made at the end of the year.
- Letting up on routines too soon. It feels like you have to be tough at the beginning and can ease up later. But “easing up” in May can communicate that your routines and rules are optional, just when everyone is pushing the limits. Don’t be afraid to stop everything and make the whole class re-do a routine like entering class if you need to.
- Planning activities that don’t ask anything concrete of the students. Think turning on a movie and leaving it at that. I actually like movies and games at the end of the year, but in May or June you really need to have the students doing something while they watch, OR you need to communicate the purpose of the activity. Or mark participation points. (Pro tip: nobody needs to know if you are actually planning to grade it or enter it!)
- Taking May personally. This may be the time of year you get unpleasant parent emails or remarks from students about how they “didn’t learn anything all year.” It stings, I know. Keep in mind that many of your students are really at their worst right now. Some are dreading summer because of their home life. Some have worked hard but now lost steam. And some are just plain cranky! Try to take these things in stride.
Keep your eyes on the prize and try to maintain your inner calm despite the crazy around you. You’ve done some awesome things this year, and you’ve made some mistakes. That’s teaching! Summer brings a clean slate, and fall brings a fresh start.
In the meantime, let’s look at some activities for the next few weeks, for when you feel like you just can’t anymore!
10 END OF THE YEAR ACTIVITIES FOR SPANISH CLASS
Some of these activities will work for any age, and some are best for older students. Hopefully there’s something for everyone!
1. REVIEW GAMES
There are so many games out there: you can choose games for going outside, crazy games for getting energy out, and yes, even games to calm it down and have a quiet day (think creating illustrated bingo boards that review from the whole year). GimKit is really popular right now, and Quizlet Live and Kahoot are good online options as well. Here are some links to my top non-tech game posts that work well for May:
- End of the Year Games for Spanish Class
- Games for Elementary and Preschool
- Top 15 Input-Heavy Games for Spanish Class
2. READING DAY
Switch things up and celebrate the end of the year with a special reading day. Bring in pillows and blankets if you can, and let students find a comfy spot for reading books in Spanish. Snacks or lollipops would make this extra nice! If you want to create a summer vibe, project a beach scene on the board pretend everyone is stretched out, reading on the beach.
Distance-learning update idea: assign some children’s audiobooks in Spanish!
(Not all of your students may be up for an entire period of reading. You could consider breaking the period into 4 chunks, with brain breaks or dance/music breaks every 15 minutes, or allowing relaxing breaks for drawing a scene from the book.)
Movies can definitely be overdone at the end of year– to the point that everyone is tired of them. But if your students are up for it, they can be the perfect way to celebrate how much your students can comprehend after a year in your class. Use my editable movie guides as a way to keep everyone accountable while watching, too!
4. THANK-YOU NOTES
If you haven’t done thank you notes before, the end of the year is a good time to squeeze them in. You can have your kids write them in English or Spanish, but if they’re writing them to other staff, they could simply incorporate some cognates, like ¡Eres fabuloso! or
Turn on some good music in Spanish while they write and create as well. (I have some cards for $2 if you need some!)
5. HOT SEAT
I saw this idea at Cult of Pedagogy for end of the year activities and loved it. Let students take turns sitting in the front of the class, while the other students say compliments in Spanish. You can even write them on the board and take a picture of the student with all the compliments written behind him/her.
6. REFLECT ON THE YEAR
Spanish Playground has some amazing printables for elementary-aged kids, where they can record favorites from Spanish class, or do an all-about-me page. See them here. I also have some all-about-me activities for kids that can be a fun project for the end of the year.
For older students, you could create some time for signing yearbooks. Prep this by brainstorming messages they can write in Spanish as they sign, with compliments, little sayings, or wishes for the future.
You can also use my Instagram-inspired templates for a fun reflection on the year or as a digital scrapbook:
7. ASSIGN A PROJECT
If you have students are acting like the year is already over, they may need a project to keep them focused. These are some great projects that can take from a day to a week to complete!
- For something shorter, I like this cartoon project from Mike Peto.
- If you want something that will be a big project, Tina Hardgaden has an amazing free document on her “End of the Year Classroom Library Books Project.” It has details, a rubric, and more, all set up for you.
- For something more cultural, try this collaborative Make a Diego Rivera Mural project.
- Assign a project for a favorite book from the year, or the last novel you do. (Here is a nice rubric.) It can also be fun to assign a video trailer!
8. BLACKOUT POETRY
This is a really relaxing activity to review songs for the whole year! Basically, you provide the lyrics to a song the students are familiar with. They create a poem by skimming, circling words that stand out to them, and using those words to create a new poem. They eventually black out all the words except the ones that are in their poem, and can add a visual component by drawing as well. See what it looks like here.
9. CLASS SUPERLATIVE / AWARDS
Spend a class giving out awards and celebrating your students! You can create your own or grab these from my friend Catharyn at Sol Azucar
10. INDEPENDENT WORK WITH TECH
If you’re one-to-one or have access to devices and can keep an eye on what students are doing, this can be perfect for days when you are missing half the class. There are so many possibilities for independent work on websites or apps! Here are some options:
- Pick a Spanish Learning App (let students work at their own pace)
- Mi Vida Loca (can be done as a whole class, or individually- it says archived but still works! You may have to use Safari or Explorer)
I hope these ideas help you make it to the end! Leave your favorite end of the year activities in the comments for us as well!
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Does mi vida loca still work for you? I haven’t been able to use the site in 2 years!! I wish I could! I just can’t play the videos! Arg!
It does! It needs Flash, so you may have to install that or try a different browser (Safari and Explorer seem to work better). If your school is blocking it, you may have to ask them to approve it as a safe site as well.