The end of the school year is fast approaching for most educators in California. If your summer break didn’t start this week, than chances are you’re in the home stretch and getting ready to trade those business casual frocks for something more beach worthy.

The past 15 months have been like no other for educators and students across the country. As COVID restrictions start to lift, it’s a time to celebrate all that you and your students have been through and accomplished this past year. Distance learning is hard. Hybrid learning – some might argue – even more challenging. But you did it – and it’s time to celebrate the successes, big and small!

Common Sense writer and Content Director Erin Wilkey Oh recently wrote an article on the organization’s website, offering “28 Fun Ways to Celebrate the End of the School Year From a Distance.” While many have already made the return to the classroom, these ideas and suggestions are easily adaptable whether you’re still in distance learning mode, back in the classroom, or a mixture of both.

Here are some of my favorite suggestions direct from Oh’s article:

  • Post a Flipgrid asking students to reply and share one accomplishment from the year that they’re proud of. Make a Flipgrid MixTape of the responses, and share the video with students and their families.
  • Create a virtual yearbook using Google Slides or any other presentation tool: Add a student’s name and photo on top of the slide and have classmates contribute their favorite qualities and memories about that student.
  • Create a word cloud for each student by asking each of their peers to submit one word they would use to describe the student. Streamline the process by sending students a Google Form that lists all students’ names with space for each where students can type in their one-word response.
  • Use iMovie or Animoto to stitch together photos from the school year into a video celebrating your students.
  • Plan a dress-up or themed virtual meeting on Zoom (or whichever video-conferencing platform your school is using). Try one of these fun theme ideas: pajamas, superheroes, funny hat, school colors, crazy hair, Disney character, or favorite animal!
  • Collect brief audio or video messages from individual students giving shout-outs or gratitude to others in the class. Compile the messages into a podcast or video and share with students and their families. Consider assigning students a few peers to shout out to, so everyone is included.
  • Host a virtual trivia night for students and their families. Questions can include lots of fun stuff but also touch on concepts learned during the year. (Kids love to show their parents what they know.)
  • Mail handwritten letters or postcards to your students, highlighting their accomplishments and wishing them well.

For more ideas or to read Oh’s article in full, check it out on Common Sense here.

About Kristin Oropeza
Kristin is a full-time special education teacher, contract consultant, and educational content writer. She is a Google Certified Teacher (Level 1 and 2), Google Certified Trainer, and MIE Expert for 2020-2021.