Thursday, June 5, 2014

(Not) The End.

Today was the last day of school, and much more bittersweet for me than usual.  I've been teaching for 13 years, but unlike previous years, ending my first year as a 5th grade teacher was full of tears.  The last day of school is always the preface to a new book in the series, no matter what grade you teach.  It happens every year.  But for me, this year was different.  

This wasn't just my first year as a 5th grade teacher - it was also my first year as a special education collaborative teacher.  More than half of my class had a learning disability, and they had to pass two state tests - reading and math - in order to move on to 6th grade.  Almost half of them did not master one or both of the tests last year.  I entered the classroom on the first day of school full of doubts and questions, mostly about whether or not I could cut it.

Today, nineteen kiddos walked the stage.  Today, 180 days of hard work paid off.   It wasn't always pretty.  There were definitely tears (mine and theirs).   My collaborative partner and I worked harder than we'd ever worked before.  But those kids put forth more effort than I could ever dream of producing!  They did extra homework, attended ENDLESS tutoring, listened to me drone on incessantly, muddled through intervention after intervention...and 100% of them passed both tests. 

I decided to post my kids' favorite activity from this year.  We read The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo because they were struggling with making connections in literary text.  I developed the activities and assessments in this bundle to get them thinking about symbolism.  They especially loved the project - comparing symbols of good and evil in the novel through art.  We did an entire lesson on chiaroscuro, an artistic element that boldly contrasts light and dark.  They used what they learned to analyze symbols and characters, and then created paintings to demonstrate these symbols.  I wish I had an example to post!  But, I'm an overzealous packer at the end of the year, so they are buried at the bottom of my closet.  Enjoy the download by clicking here***, and don't forget, it will expire with the next post.  But you can always find it on my TeachersPayTeachers online store!

As teachers, we always have moments that touch our hearts forever.  Today was one of those moments for me.  My tears were pure joy and amazement and PRIDE.  Nineteen faces smiled up at me for the last time today.  I want to be just like them when I grow up. 

***The link is now expired!

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