It’s hard to believe that we have wrapped up our 2014-2015 school year. For the most part, it seems to have flown by, but as we near the end and the students (and teachers) are restless, exhausted, and ready for summer…the days seem to move slowly. Then, suddenly, in the blink of an eye, that final dismissal call sounds, and those kiddos are racing out of the classroom, headed for a summer in which I hope they continue to read, practice their math, and maintain all the growth they have made this year.
During the last few weeks of school, once testing is finally over, we did a couple of “theme days.” The trick here, the kids think that they’re having “fun days,” and in reality, the motive is to keep them learning and thinking without even knowing it. Of course we did have a relaxing “day at the beach,” where kids watched a movie (thanks to Discovery Education (where each HCPS student has a username and password access to as well) which allowed students to watch the Planet Earth series. We had an “engineering day” where they worked in self selected groups to make the tallest, free standing, straw structure (using only tape and straws–except for the theft of some pipe cleaners. I think they did the whole don’t ask for permission, just say “oops” later). They had TOO much fun with this, and it quickly became a competition between the groups. It’s also a great way to watch them problem solve, and debate about why their structure isn’t standing tall, or where else they need to add support. They discussed whether to use thick straws or thin straws, whether the tape added weight in the right places, or if the base needed to be wider. Of course, there was some strong debating going on with a few of the groups, but they worked it out in the end, and sometimes learned that the strongest argument isn’t always the best solution. I got caught up in the excitement of it all, and failed to take as many pictures as I wished (and just realized that I have NO photos of the finished structures), but the important part of this project is the problem solving/communication/collaboration, not so much the final product, right?
It was a great year, with some AWESOME students, and it’s bittersweet to let them go. Each of them has grown so very much–building confidence, gaining self control, finding the FUN in school. I know that I say this every year, but this has been the best group yet; this is a group whose smiles and laughter I will keep in my pocket for a rainy day. Whose creativity and curiosity I will use to drive myself into the next school year. I am so proud of all of them and their accomplishments–academic and otherwise, and can’t wait to see the wonderful things they do in the future.