5 Little Things That Spark End of Year Joy

Lots of time to think today during testing, so here are a few things that brought a smile to my face today:

  1. End of year slide show.  I take photos throughout the year, then let my Mac do the rest of the work in turning them into an animated slideshow.  I try to include every student at least once, and in the 4-5 minutes that the show runs we get to laugh, reminisce, and just take a breath before we dive into exams!
  2. Our coloring station.  Posted right by the door, we’ve worked on coloring in the few minutes after we close the lesson but before the bell rings.  Command strips allow the jar with the pencils in it to be stuck to the wall & stay tidy.  Sweet conversation starter at the end of the period as I say goodbye to them at the door every day.
  3. Dry erase page protectors–now empty! We use these several times a week to reduce copying and keep our realia neat 🙂
  4. Play-doh and 5. coloring sheets.  Fast finishers, have at it!  This has been a big hit, even with the seniors.  One group of scholars even built themselves a Play doh bowling alley complete with pins and a ball, and were keeping score as they played! Others colored and had a ball doing so–all while being quietly entertained without digital devices while the rest of the class finished their assessments.

What little things are bringing joy to you today?

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Resources So Authentic that I can taste them!

While I would love to take all my students around the world, this is simply not possible.  However, I can bring the world to them!  We are in our final 10 days of classes for the year, but this is an activity that draws them in and gives us something interesting to talk about as we are trying to wind down the year and continue to build on the work we’ve done this year.

It starts with a quick trip to your most diverse local grocery store for a few two liters of drinks. I try to mix & match flavors that students are unlikely to have tasted, as well as a combination of carbonated/non-carbonated, juice, aguas frescas, etc. Manzanita and Inca Kola are two of my favorites, especially because Inca Kola is so polarizing–they love it or they hate it.  Either way, it’s easy to get them to talk about it, so we win!  A fun fact:  the only place in the US that has Inca Kola on tap/as a fountain drink is about 10 minutes from our school.  Connecting cultures, one sip at a time!

I also get a BUNCH of little cups like these (but I got mine at Costco because my classes are HUGE).

Setup is easy, but goes quicker with a few helpers.  I pour out just a quick taste of each kind of drink into about 20 cups each and lay them out with a label for the drink.  Students get a copy of the handout (on TPT here) and are sent off to taste test and record their reactions/thoughts/fill out the chart.  After we have finished that, they interview 5 classmates and complete part 4 of the process–summarizing the results of their survey.

All in all, this was a big hit!  At a point where motivation is starting to lag, this was a fun activity that also helped to reinforce our goals.  But don’t just take my word for it–see what participants said below.

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BTW–Check for allergies before trying any of this!