As the school year comes to an end, it’s important to keep our students engaged and active in meaningful activities. Aside from all of the celebrations and partying, we took some time at our school to get our students reflecting and connecting on their year as a whole.
My current school is a very small, close-knit community, which led me to think about a way to get the entire school collaborating on some kind of year-end reflection. My principal asked me to take the lead on an activity that would allow students to recall their learning, communicate it with others and possibly share these thoughts with younger students entering their grade next year.
So, I came up with the idea of having each student in the school design a puzzle piece that represented learning that was meaningful to them. I visited each classroom and facilitated a discussion about what the big ideas of their learning were and what experiences were part of their story. Students had some wonderful reflections to share and once the conversation got started the students began to recall and make connections about many different areas of learning from their year at school – both curriculum based and not. We worked together to make sure that within the class, all of the most important areas of learning or events were represented.
We talked about how each piece of the puzzle was important and connected with the other pieces. We also talked about how all of their puzzle pieces came together to paint a picture of their experience, both of the individual class and the school as a whole.
It was nice for me, as a teacher, to participate in this activity with my students. I got to reflect on all of the wonderful memories we made together during our year and it was very informative for me to hear what they felt important enough to include in our discussion, and on their puzzle pieces.
After visiting each class, I collected all the puzzle pieces and, with the help of some of my eager students, created a giant mosaic in our school’s entry way. This mosaic is going to remain there well into the next school year so students can look back at their learning!
This is only one of many ways to facilitate year-mapping with students. Next time I do this, I think I will challenge students to think about where their puzzle pieces fit into the puzzle as a whole, and get them to share why they place their piece in a certain spot. Overall, I really enjoyed leading this school-wide activity and it was a great way to celebrate the stories and success of our community!