I’ve already written about many of the activities I do with students during the final days of school (see How Students Evaluated Me This Year — Part One, My Revised Final Exams (And An Important Lesson) and What Do You Do On The Last Day Of Class? (Part Two)) , and included a number of downloadable materials.
I thought readers might find it useful for me share a couple of other activities, along with excerpts from some of the work produced by students this past week.
I have students do an analysis of their best work over the year, along with answering a number of other questions. You can download them, if you’d like:
Final Project For Ninth-Grade English
Final Project For Intermediate English
They’re very similar — the Intermediate English one is just more scaffolded.
I’m not going to share a lot of what students wrote. However, I’d like to share my favorite part of the portfolio (I talk more about this in my book on teaching English Language Learners). In it, students need to complete these sentences:
________________________________ was my best moment in class
because ________________________________. I helped make it my best
moment by _______________________________________.
_______________________________was my worst moment in class
because ______________________________. I could have made it better
Students then draw a representation of the “best moment” sentences.
Here are a couple of examples from this year:
When I showed my work on the overhead it was my best moment in class because everybody liked it. I helped it my best moment by doing my best on it.
Helping people was my best moment in class because I could make them know how to do things. I helped make it my best moment by doing good for them.
Several students gave the same response to the question about what were the three most important things they learned during the year and why were they important. They focused on the “ABC” method of responding to prompts that we practiced a lot. The ABC model stands for :
Answer the Question
Back up your answer with evidence or facts.
Comment from a more personal opinion or perspective.
Here’s what one student wrote:
The most important thing I learned this year was the ABC. It helped a lot with essays and prompts in this class and in other classes.
STUDENT SIMILES OF THEMSELVES
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts and in my book, I have students write and draw similes representing themselves which I give to their next year’s English teacher. We’ve studied them already, and I just write and draw a model on the whiteboard. This year my model was:
I’m like a bald eagle because I don’t have any hair and I try to soar as high as I can when I do things.
Here are some my students came-up with:
I am like a boomerang because I keep coming back.
I’m like a ninja because I’m super quiet.
I am like a coloring box because I have different shades of personality.
I am like a cheetah because I run fast and I like to beat anyone in the race.
I am like a butterfly who’s flying to the flower to make it beautiful and happy. The reason is because I like to make my family happy and not hate each other.
I am like a book because I am full of new ideas.
I am like a buffalo because the buffalo can help people work in the farm and carry something heavy. Also, the buffalo are very strong, too.
I am like an elephant because an elephant can carry you anywhere you want to go.
This year, I was a little concerned with some of the student similes. I wish I had read them before students walked out the door on the last day so I could have talked with some about them. Here are the more troubling ones:
I’m like the ant because he’s small and I’m small and we can’t win big things.
I am like a wall because I always have my guard up.
I am like a white blank paper because I have nothing in my mind unless somebody draw on me and show me the way.
LETTERS TO NEXT YEAR’S STUDENTS:
I have my mainstream ninth-graders write letters to my next year’s students. This year, my colleague Katie Hull wrote up these short directions:
Please write a letter to the incoming 9th graders who will be taking this class next year. Please describe what they will be learning in this class and give them some tips for being successful. you may also want to give them some information about Burbank, the Information Technology Small Learning Community, the teachers they will have, and any advice on how to have a good 9th grade year.
Students wrote some very thoughtful letters. Here are a few excerpts:
Some tips to be successful in this class is participate, cooperate with others, never quit and set goals for yourself. I’ve done thdse things and now I am more successful than anybody in my family.
Mr. Ferlazzo is a very patient teacher, he doesn’t use an angry tone to keep you from being loud. Unless you finally go a bit overboard and he’ll tick off a bit but not for long — probably 20 seconds.
If you get Mr. Ferlazzo’s class you’re probably not going to like it because he never leaves you alone and it can get irritating. But it’s worth it because he just wants you to do good. The one thing I like about him is that he tries to keep you motivated to do good and that you can do it.
Do you do anything in particular that works well during the last week? Please share your experiences in the comments.