It’s mid-June and most schools are either done or wrapping up! Something I really like to do as the school year starts to wrap up, is have a ‘real’ moment with the kids. With grade 12’s I find and read articles about life after high-school and do anonymous Q and A’s on topics that would concern a high-school graduate. They love it.
With grade 6 this year, I did something similar to a fellow teacher, because I loved the concept. I call it Whiteboard Words. It is meant to build up your students and end on a positive note. You will probably need two periods to complete this, and all you need is a class full of students, a whiteboard and a marker (traditional chalk board would work just as good!)
Step One: Being Creative
To begin, every student gets a piece of paper. On that paper they have to come up with a neat name that alliterates, such as Cool Craig, or Fabulous Felicia. Then you collect all these names and put them in a container of some sorts. You will be picking the names out randomly, and who ever you pick must step outside for a couple of minutes while you write their neat name on the board and then get the rest of the class to contribute positive, describing words about that person.
Describe the activity to the students, emphasize that ONLY positive adjectives and descriptions are acceptable. You can warm them up by having students list some of their favourite and unique adjectives. Words and phrases like “awesome, polite, cool, trustworthy, fun, great dancer, friendly, outgoing, enthusiastic” etc.
Step Two: Positive Vibes
Once you have about 6-8 words (you can do more!) then ask the student to come in and come up to the board. I have my students read the words out loud, because speaking them out loud has an even bigger impact than just reading the positive and encouraging words. After they finish reading, I usually ask them, “How does that make you feel?” And they always reply “Good!” and sometimes with a big or sheepish smile on their face.
Sometimes, you will have some students that is harder to come up with positive words for. This is why I prefer the teacher to control the marker and write the words out, because then I can insert a word once in a while, to make sure all students get at least 6 positive words written about them.
Step Three: Record the Moment
To finish off, I take a quick photo on my phone, and maybe because this is grade six, but not ONE student has refused to stand by the board and have their picture taken, and only ONE who wanted to hide their face. There are three reasons I believe other grades (particularly higher ones) shouldn’t have too much trouble with this either:
- Because all of the class is doing this, the more shy and insecure students don’t feel like they are being particularly singled out
- After they read the positive words about them, there is usually a boost in confidence and self-image, which allows me to take a quick picture which at another time, I probably wouldn’t be able to.
- I strategically choose the shier students a little later (not so random after all!) so they have a chance to see many other students do it before they do. If you pick a shy or insecure student right off the bat, it will be too much for them and it will set the precedent for the following students.
Overall, the students really enjoy this activity, and other classes were excited to do it once they heard another class had done it. No matter how the year went, and how your students did, it’s activities like these that students will remember the most, and if what they remember is their classmates think they are creative, smart, kind, and friendly, then that’s a good thing!
What kind of lessons or activities do you do at the end of the year? Do you have similar activities that maybe you do at another time of the year? I’d love to try some new things for next year! Let me know in the comments below!