Saturday, April 27, 2013

Calming the Chaos Blog Hop

Welcome to the Calming the Chaos Blog Hop hosted by 2peasandadog.  All of us bloggers have come together to share our top tips for making the last month of school run smoothly. Visit each of our blogs to learn something new and catch a freebie or two! Happy Hopping!

It's getting to be that time of year when I start looking for ways to keep everyone sane continue the learning process even as the lure of sunny warm days make it hard to resist a REALLY long outside recess remind us that another school year is coming to a close.  I actually find that sticking to our normal routine as long as possible makes for the smoothest and happiest last month of school, but with school-wide assessments and Dibels testing starting in the second week of May it's hard to keep in our routine.

Student Showcase - Reader's Theater

One thing I've done for the past 6 years is to hold a Student Showcase at the end of May.  I invite families and caregivers into my classroom and we show-off all the things we've learned.  We usually do a combination of reader's theater plays, poems, and author's share.

Each year around the second week of May I mix up our reading groups a bit and assign students to a reader's theater group.  I've used the Reading A to Z Reader's Theater scripts and scripts from the Scholastic Book below:

You can get this book from Scholastic Book Clubs or from Amazon.  I like this one because each play has a multi-leveled script which allows students from different reading levels to work in a reading group for a few weeks.  We spend a lot of time building fluency and expression as we practice our plays.  Each student works on a character-related headband to wear and the cast of each play works cooperatively on a large bulletin board-sized scenery poster.  Every student has at least one part in a play.

Student Showcase - Poetry & Author's Share

While all students are required to be in a play at the student showcase, they get to decide what they'd like  to do for their second part.  Students have a choice between doing a partner poem (choral reading) or reading aloud a story or book they've published.  I use poems from a variety of places; I like the Jack Prelutsky and Bruce Lansky poems for older students, and I use poems from CanTeach - they are short and sweet and have great rhythm.  I pair students and they choral read their poems together.  For the students who choose to share a book I have them use our wireless microphone and read aloud a published book.  The microphone really helps the audience stay interested hear better!

The whole showcase takes about an hour and I usually serve juice and cookies.  I typically invite our building principal, our district superintendent and my reading assisstant to join us for the showcase; it's a great way to end the year! I also usually use the showcase to publicly thank my parent volunteers and give them a small token of appreciation. You can check out my pinterest board on parent volunteer gifts:

Let the Fun Begin!

Once the showcase is over we relax a bit and enjoy the last few days of school  with some fun and games.  We usually go on a picnic and swimming field trip, our school holds a Fun Day carnival and of course, we make plans to say good bye.  Soon it will be time to hug those first-graders one last time and send them off to second grade, but before we do here's a quick list of end-of-the-year activities I've done in the past:
  • auction off anchor charts and old/used materials - you'd be amazed at what kids want to take home!
  • re-organize our classroom library
  • clean our tote trays with shaving cream and a hose (on a hot day of course)
  • beach ball autographs
  • write a letter to next year's first graders
  • read-aloud day (where I say yes to every read-aloud request!)
  • watch the video of our student showcase
  • watch the dvd movie of our school year spent together (I give one to each child to take home)
That's about it!  Since it's still April and yes, it snowed again this morning here, it's hard to realize it's time to be thinking about the end of the year.  Hopefully this blog hop initiated by 2peasandadog will get us all energized for a great year end!


Primary Grades
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  1. Sounds like a great way to end the year! With spring break over, my students are counting down the days until summer. Thanks for the suggestions

    The Math Maniac

  2. Thank you for sharing your ideas. I'm going to use a couple - love the idea of each of the students writing a letter to the incoming first graders. I know my first graders this year would love to do this. And I'm doing the auction, too. What a great idea! My kids will love this one, too! Excited to try these. Thanks!

    First Grade Schoolhouse

  3. I just discovered your blog and I'm so glad I did. It looks like we both started blogging right around the same time. I'm your newest follower. I love reader's theater and so do my kiddies. It's a great way to cruise into summer.
    First Grade Hugs and High Fives

  4. Thanks so much for the great ideas! Just found your blog on the "chaos" hop and have become a new follower!

    Sarah @ Hoots N Hollers

  5. I found your blog through the "choas" bloghop and am your newest follower. Love the idea of doing readers theater!
    Teacher Gone Digital

  6. Lots of great ideas! Can't wait to try a few this year. Thanks so much for sharing.

    Mrs. Rios Teaches Second Grade

  7. Love the idea of a showcase! What a great way to celebrate the end of the year with the kids and their parents. I think this is definitely an idea that my students would love. Thanks for the inspiration! Glad I found you on the blog hop.
    :0) Melissa