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  • Writer's pictureJanis Aston

The 20-21 Roller Coaster

End-of-the year blues? This year has been a doozie! You may have gone from no classes to virtual learning to a hybrid synchronous-asynchronous to in-person traveling from classroom to classroom when you have your own wonderful classroom or in-person but socially distanced. The students are not allowed to sing, dance, play instruments. And the list goes on.

What a roller coaster we have all been on! Finish Strong

Are your students acting out? Have they completely forgotten your rules? How can you "Finish Strong" when all you want to do is just be DONE!?

The last 4-6 weeks can be agonizing if you don't anticipate and plan. One thing that worked well for my school during testing was that the PE teacher invited me and the art teacher to bring our classes outside for whatever he had planned for them. After testing all morning the 3rd-4th graders were thrilled to go outside and play. The PE teacher had fantastic games that they loved. We supervised and just enjoyed watching the kids. And everyone felt it helped relieve the stress of testing.

Another thing I learned through the years of teaching in a lower-economic, inner-city school, was that many students do not look forward to summer break or any other break for that matter. Some do not have meals like they do at school. Many do not have any supervision or quality care. There will be no fun trips to DisneyWorld, beach vacations, etc. And no matter what the reasons, it is frightening to children. Hence, their otherwise manageable behavior becomes off the wall. They are angry, worried, concerned, and don't even know why. They are dreading being at home all day. And they take it out on teachers.

Knowing all of that, what can you do to make the last few weeks a fun time while also maintaining the quality of learning experiences in your classroom?

Divide and Conquer!

I always saved my great small-group learning projects for the end of the year. So many things came up that disrupted our schedule—Field Day, field trips, special programs, standardized testing, etc.

I learned early in my career that I could review and reinforce the year's learning

experiences by engaging the students in fun activities that they could work on independently with their friends. While they were working together, it also gave me opportunity to asses various skills individually like recorder, matching pitch, rhythm, etc. The following items are great for small-group learning experiences. They include step-by-step instructions, rubrics, and assessments. Your students will thoroughly enjoy working together while also learning important music concepts. See my previous Blog Post about the value of using projects in the music classroom.

Add fun dances like the Virginia Reel, La Raspa, and games like Rock, Paper, Scissors*—(great behavior management tool), and you will . . .

Finish Strong!

*Latest review of Rock, Paper, Scissors—5 stars, 4-22-21, "This game is a hit! Using 'Se Se Se' gets the children singing and having fun as they play the game. I use it at the end of class as a kind of reward for hard work all through the class for the day."

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