How to end the school year on a high note- and help prepare students & families for summer

Class parties. Award ceremonies. Graduation and more. We know that your students and families look forward to these traditions at the end of each school year, as a way to celebrate learning, growth, and community.

Here at TalkingPoints, we know that you look forward to them too! And we know you play a big role in helping students end the school year on a high note- and, in many cases, in helping them plan for continued learning over the break.

Unfortunately, school closures and the threat of COVID-19 have meant cancelling many of our cherished year-end celebrations and plans. But instead of being defeated, teachers like you are rising to the challenge, and figuring out how to celebrate students over the distance.

Need ideas to help you celebrate your students? TalkingPoints is here to help. In this post, we’ve included our favorite ways to close out the school year with your class- and help students and families prepare as they head into an uncertain summer.

Throw a digital class party

Bring your students together for a virtual party to close out the year! Come up with a few activities or games for students to play. You might even ask students ahead of time to share favorite games, or reach out to colleagues for ideas. Ask students for song suggestions too, and add them to an end-of-year class playlist, which you can run in the background of the party from your laptop and a streaming service.

During the party, find time to celebrate student growth and class achievements. By sharing these gains, you’ll help your students- and yourself- view the school year in a more positive light. Also allow time for students to share their favorite class memories and what they appreciated about the school year. By giving students a chance to speak and reflect, you’ll help them connect with classmates and feel more supported heading into summer.

  • TalkingPoints Tip: Want a quick method for personalizing your digital class party invitations? With TalkingPoints, you can use customizable fields to add a personal greeting to each message. Here’s how.

Create a virtual class yearbook

What better way to celebrate your favorite class memories than with a virtual yearbook? To create one, start by asking students and families to share a favorite photo or two from the year. Images that capture learning and spending time with classmates are best! Include your own photos as well. You might even include a screenshot from lively virtual sessions with your class. Put these images together in a slideshow, include captions and a cover image, and you’ve got a digital album of class memories ready to share.

With TalkingPoints the possibilities are even greater! You could ask students and families to share video clips talking about their favorite part of the school year, and then compile these into a multimedia yearbook. Jazz it up with music, pictures or sound effects if you’re feeling especially creative! Whatever you do, your students and families are sure to appreciate the thoughtful tribute to a year that, while challenging, was also full of joyful moments.

  • TalkingPoints Tip: Making a virtual yearbook? Share it with students & families on TalkingPoints as a link or attachment.

Take 1:1 time for reflection with students

Having time to connect with your class community is important, but so is taking time for each student. Now more than ever, students—especially those facing extra challenges as a result of school closures—need your support and encouragement.

If you can, set up a virtual session or phone call for each student in your class before the end of the school year. Use that time to share feedback on student growth over the year and keep the conversation positive. Ask students to share the assignment they were most proud of and the favorite thing they learned while in class. (You might ask families to help students prepare these ahead of time!)

If you have middle or high school students, ask for their feedback on in-person and virtual learning. By being open and positive, you’ll help each student feel supported, seen and heard.

  • TalkingPoints Tip: Let all your families know you’d like to set up 1:1 reflection sessions with them and their students by sending a group or whole class message on TalkingPoints. Here’s how.

Help families make a summer learning plan

Many families and students are facing an uncertain summer. Find out what your students’ families have planned, and offer support to help keep students from experiencing the “summer slide”- i.e. a loss of learning that especially threatens low income and ELL students.

That support might include digital resources, like literacy or math websites, or physical materials, such as workbooks, readers, math manipulatives, laptop computers and tablets. Find out if your district or school is offering these types of resources and share information about them with your families. Help families think about ways to build in learning time during the summer too, even if it’s through short but regular activities (like reading before bedtime).

Finally, offer specific suggestions to help their student based on individual learning needs, so families know what to focus on most.

  • TalkingPoints Tip: Do families need access to books? Ideas for summer learning plans? Something else? Create and send a poll with TalkingPoints to find out what families are thinking about when it comes to their child’s learning over summer break.

With these tips for celebration and planning, we’re confident that you- and your students and families- will end the year on a positive note! Thanks for all you do, teachers!