Quick Ways to Recognize and Celebrate Every Student at the End of the Year

Quick Ways to Recognize and Celebrate Every Student at the End of the Year

The end of the school year is always an exciting time—full of opportunities to celebrate and reflect. The students we met in August and September have grown in innumerable ways—they’ve learned to master new reading strategies, perfect new spelling patterns, embrace new math skills, and develop new social skills. We often take time to celebrate our collective learning and larger classroom community at the end of the year. But it is also important to remember to recognize students as individuals as we engage in these commemorative activities. Along with end-of-the-year memory books and yearbooks and end-of-the-year reflection questions and writing prompts, consider an active and interactive celebration activity that will give students the chance to appreciate how well they have gotten to know their classmates.

End-of-the-Year Celebration Activity

To celebrate the unique individuals whom I have spent nine months getting to know, I enjoy an activity called Guess Who? First, students are invited to list five things about themselves. These might be statements like:

  • I have a dog named Taxi.
  • I have three sisters.
  • I live across the street from school.
  • My dad is an architect.
  • I want to be a gardener when I grow up.

The next day, when students arrive, I have numbered these pages (which do not include their names) and hung them around the classroom. Each student is given a form on which to record their guesses. In pairs, they are invited to make their way around the room, carefully reading each set of clues. Next, they try to guess which of their classmates wrote each set of statements; they then write that classmate’s name down on their recording forms. Finally, as a class, we review all of the Guess Who papers and

celebrate how well we know each other now! Usually, students learn some new facts about their classmates as well, which allows us to reflect upon how we can always learn more about our classmates and friends.

Variations on Guess Who

  1. Consider having students also draw a self-portrait.
  2. Consider having younger students draw a self-portrait or things they like if they cannot yet write.
  3. Instead of exploring all the Guess Who papers in just one day, find a common time each day to look at one Guess Who paper as a class. This could stretch through your entire final month!

This year, when you plan your end-of-year fun, be sure to include activities that will help every individual student end the year feeling like they belong and are significant!

Mollie Bruhn is a Responsive Classroom consulting teacher.