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Dr. Joanne Meier

Along with her background as a professor, researcher, writer, and teacher, Joanne Meier is a mom. Join Joanne every week as she shares her experiences raising her own young readers, and guides parents and teachers on the best practices in reading.

Keep them learning until the end of the year

May 11, 2011

I'm puzzled by conversations and blog posts that start with phrases about how little time is left in the school year. Comments like "there's just six weeks left," "just 43 more days," and posts about the slide into summer. Late spring and warmer weather means more sports, more time outside, more yawning from sleepy kids, standardized tests, and more planning for end of the year activities like school carnivals and fun fairs….but even with all that, there is still LOTS of instructional time left this year. Teachers need to teach until the end. With one-third of our fourth graders reading below a basic level, there's not a minute to waste.

But I'm realistic. I know that as the end of the year approaches, whole groups of kids seem to turn off, shut down, and gaze out the window. Here are a few activities that may keep you teaching (and them learning) all the way to the end. Or at least until you unplug your computers for the summer.

Susan Stephenson from Book Chook gathered several good quick writing online resources, including ones to create images, design fun motivational posters and write comics. My 8-year-old would LOVE to spend time on every one of these sites, just goofing around. But there's also real potential for learning. Teachers could assign students to write motivational posters from the point of view of historical figures studied during the year, comic strips to solve problems within the classroom, and images that convey an important message. Writing in each of these styles requires brevity and careful word choice.

If you're wondering what other teachers do to finish the school year on good note (instead of with a thud) check out this Wallwisher wall built by Richard Byrne of Free Technology for Teachers.

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"To learn to read is to light a fire; every syllable that is spelled out is a spark." — Victor Hugo, Les Miserables