Distance Learning Ideas for the End of the Year

The end of each school year is a special time. It is a time when teachers, students, and families celebrate achievements and their year together. Teaching during a pandemic has put many activities on hold. But, students and teachers still need closure. This post is a collaborative collection of distance learning ideas for the end of the year.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to the ideas, activities, and resources included in this post.

Distance Learning Ideas for the End of the Year | Providing Closure and Recognizing Achievement in Elementary Grades

Take a Virtual Field Trip

Do you usually take a field trip with your classes? Turn it into a digital field trip. Find ways to make the experience interactive. Check out Google Earth. If using Google Earth is too daunting for your students, consider using the app to make a short screencast. Or, create a slideshow of the “field trip” using Google Slides or PowerPoint. Create a way for students to respond and add their observations and ideas.

Consider having students create their own virtual field trips. Give students a template to follow as they make personalized field trips to their chosen locations. You can share each project for the whole class to enjoy! The world is out there to explore!

End of the Year Slideshow

Slideshows are one of the staples of the end of every school year. This is still very doable in a distance learning environment. Browse through your phone and put out the request for pictures from other teachers and parents today. You can share your class slideshows with families on your school’s LMS or other private online platforms.  Just make sure to follow your school district’s guidelines for the sharing of student photos.

Distance Learning Ideas for the End of the Year | Providing Closure and Recognizing Achievement in Elementary Grades

Choose an End of the Year Song

Choose two or three school-appropriate songs that you feel represent your class/grade this school year. Then, send the links to recordings of those songs to all your students. Ask them to vote on one song that they like the best. You can use this song for a class slideshow. (Always use safe sharing practices as defined by your school.)

Or, consider singing the song and recording it as your class song. If you are still teaching via distance learning, ask any volunteers to send in a recording of themselves singing the song. You can edit the song by inserting short clips of one person singing at a time. On the last day of school, you can adjourn with this song.


Note: It is hard to find school-appropriate songs. If you need some ideas, We Are Teachers has a post with 35 Awesome Songs for Your End of the Year Playlist. Start here. (Always follow copyright rules.)

Create a Class Memory Book

Many teachers end the year by creating memory books with their students. This is a very doable in-class or online project. If you already have memory book templates that you have been using, you can turn them into digital versions. 

Heather has a tradition of making memory books with her classes. She has used the templates for grades K-2 below. If making memory books is a new project for you or you need to update your templates, check out the versions below.

Encourage your students to be sincere and put effort into this project. You will want to include a page about distance learning and the shifts from in-person learning and learning online at home if applicable. Encourage your students to print their memory books and keep them somewhere safe. They will be a memento that they will want to look back on for the rest of their lives.

If you have group photos, you may want to prefill a class photo page before sending out the assignment. This can help jump-start and motivate students.  Be sure to include some sort of special, personalized note to each student on the last page of each of their memory books. And, make sure you include your picture as one more way to connect. Your students will miss you.

Distance Learning Field Day Fun

Field Day is one of the most anticipated days of the year for elementary students. However, Field Day as we know it is just not possible for many schools. That does not mean that you cannot schedule some fun, light-hearted, friendly competition activities. Those activities can even include a review and extension of academic skills.

Online Awards and Promotion Ceremonies

An awards ceremony could be designed in PowerPoint or in Google Slides or even in a movie format. The ceremony could be shared with students and families via Google Classroom or your school’s LMS (Learning Management System). Below is a sample outline of what such a ceremony could look like.

  • Welcome slide
  • Opening video message from the principal 
  • Slides announcing students with perfect attendance (up until the day school dismissed)
  • Slides announcing other awards, if desired 
  • School/Grade Level Slideshow
  • Short video message from student’s teacher(s).
  • School song or another special song
  • Closing message from principal
  • Closing montage with a picture of EVERY person that works at the school – nurse, cooks, custodians, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, counselors, teachers, principals, etc.
  • Closing slide – We can’t wait to see you soon! (fade out)

The closing ceremony could be customized for each grade level. While using the same basic template, the slideshow and teacher messages could be switched out.

A PowerPoint or Google Slides format, may work best for your school, but I prefer a video format. This gives the online ceremony more of a feeling of a live, in-person event.

Do you need printable certificates and awards? Click to preview the certificates below.

Conclusion

In this uncertain time, students need to feel a sense of security and tradition. There is “no normal” anymore. But, with these distance learning ideas for the end of the year, students can feel a sense of growth, accomplishment, and closure. We want your students to be looking forward to coming back to school next year.

Best wishes friends!


Do you need some online interactive music activities to finish up the school year strong? Click to read these posts.


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