It’s almost that time, teachers. Summer break is near, and the end is in sight. Before long, you’ll be staying up later, ignoring your alarm, and taking more than 20 minutes to enjoy your lunch.
We’ve still got a few more weeks though, and when I was teaching, I loved this time of year. Sure, I was tired after all of the testing and a bit less tolerant of the students who still hadn’t learned our class rules – despite frequent reminders. But there was more freedom when it came to the material I covered and how I presented my lessons.
These weeks between year-end testing and the last few days give you an opportunity to flex your creative muscles and try out some new approaches you might want to use again in the fall. Since you have the chance to explore a little bit and have more fun with your presentation style and your content, you might as well go for the gusto!
Today I’m sharing three year-end activities that can benefit from an added dash of Piktochart. Why not add some extra flair to your year-end activities while you have the time and freedom to experiment? These activities are more engaging, interesting, and fun when you incorporate our templates, presentations, and easy-to-use tools. Who knows? This could be the start of a new approach to teaching when you get back in the fall!
Where We’ve Been, Where We’re Going
Take time to reflect on what went well and where you can improve
The first year-end activity that gets better with Piktochart is the year-in-review. When I was teaching, I always asked my students (and myself) what I’d done well and where I could’ve tried a little harder. I used that feedback and reflection to improve my teaching style for the next school year.
To get the process started, I encouraged my students to look at the school year like a road map. There was a beginning and end, and there was usually a fairly clear route between the two (minus that speed bump around winter break).
By looking back at the material we’d covered in order, my students were able to reflect on what was successful, engaging, and fun without trying to just pull the memories from the tops of their heads.
Most days, they couldn’t remember what they’d had for breakfast. Asking them to talk about the literary style unit we’d covered in October was certainly no easy task. Using this structure lead to those “A-ha!” moments, and that made it all worth it.
How to Do It with Piktochart
It probably doesn’t surprise you to learn that Piktochart has an infographic template that I think would be ideal for reviewing the school year as a road map.
As a matter of fact, we don’t have just one. We have a collection of them and a blog post that talks about the benefits of laying out content (or in our case, a review) like a road map. That should give you a head start toward setting up this review activity.
The students can do this activity as individuals or in groups. Be aware that if you have every student make his or her own infographic, the content might get a bit repetitive if you decide to have each student present to the class.
I’d approach the activity like this:
- Give your students a general overview of the assignment. Tell them that you want them to map out where you’ve been and what you’ve seen along the way.
- Give them the list of road map templates and encourage them to put their own stylistic touches on their infographics.
- Using their textbooks and notes to jog their memories, ask your students to construct a road map of their year in your class. Ask them to highlight their favorite and least enjoyable activities.
- You should also do this yourself, but without the supplementary materials! See what you can remember about the year. What do you think went well? Where do you see room for change and improvement?
Take a day or two to present, and share your personal creation with the class as well. If there are designs that are comprehensive enough, consider using them in the fall as a guide for new students (or as part of your syllabus, which we’ll talk about a little more later).
Tell Me How You Really Feel
It’s about getting smarter and growing as a person
One of my favorite year-end activities I did as a teacher was an “attitudes and reflections” survey. I asked my students to reflect not only on the material we’d covered, but also on their individual growth as a student and as a person.
This was similar to the surveys I was asked to complete at the end of my graduate school courses. My instructors were constantly seeking feedback on areas of improvement and places where they’d done well.
As far as classroom implementation goes, I stole the practice from a colleague of mine. He wanted to make sure he received honest feedback, so he promised his students he wouldn’t look at the results (which were also anonymous) until the last day of classes. I didn’t go quite that far because my students were curious about the results, but waiting is an option to consider.
You’d be surprised what students will tell you when they think they won’t see you again. Most of it was helpful, and some of it was downright hilarious.
How to Do It with Piktochart
Students were always interested in seeing how their answers stacked up with their classmates. Turning the results into an infographic or presentation was the easiest way for me to show them what I’d learned.
Using Google Forms, I created a survey with a collection of scaled and short answer questions. Students could either use their own devices or our classroom computers to complete the survey, and to ensure that I had 100% participation, I had them show me a screenshot of the screen that pops up after the survey is completed.
You could also do something similar to this with SurveyMonkey if you prefer. Their free plan allows you to ask up to 10 questions and have up to 100 responses, so if you have a small number of students, this may be a great solution for you.
After your students complete the survey, the fun begins. This is a great opportunity to use some of the data importing tools Piktochart offers.
There are two ways to do this. First, you could use our Survey Monkey integration to seamlessly pull your results into a collection of bar graphs, pie charts, and line graphs.
Your other option is to use the Dynamic Data import feature.
I love this option for two reasons:
- All of your data stays in the Google ecosystem. You use Forms to collect it and Sheets to analyze it.
- The “dynamic” part of the importer means that the charts can change as the data changes. You could easily put a chart of your results on a projector screen and watch with glee as your students’ answers affect the chart in near-real time. Students love the interactivity of it.
This works best with scaled answer questions because the data is easily transformed. You can always go back “after the last day of classes” and modify your presentation by adding quotations from your students about what an awesome teacher you are. Feel free to print out your infographic and show it to your principal. ?
Do it now so you don’t have to do it later
I know that the middle of May is not your favorite time to be thinking about what’s coming up in August. But what better time to get a jump on next year’s work than by laying out your syllabus while the material is still fresh in your mind?
Laying out your syllabus or “scope and sequence” in an infographic-style presentation shows new students that you’re not like Mr. Franklin down the hall. He’s been using the same “Welcome Back!” presentation and handouts for the last 20 years. You know it so well, you could probably deliver it for him.
Show your new students that you do things differently. Show them that you know how to do more than use the same old Powerpoint templates with the Comic Sans font face. Please, no Comic Sans.
How to Do It with Piktochart
First, using an infographic allows you to break down the content into easily-digestible bites. You don’t want to overwhelm your students on the first day.
Make it easy for them to get to know you, your class, and your expectations by giving them smaller pieces to process.
Second, you can use a template to tell a story. The first few days back to school are hectic, and everyone is throwing around things to remember and lists to check off.
Give your new charges an easier path to follow by picking a template that helps you tell the story of the year ahead.
Finally, creating a well-designed infographic will help you keep your words to a minimum. Why use words when a picture will do?
Students are more inclined to remember a picture of chewing gum with a massive red X over it than a line item that says “No gum chewing.” Focus on the frequently asked questions and the things you know the students will be wondering about.
Make it interesting and memorable. The less time you have to spend answering the same questions over and over, the more time you can spend teaching and improving young lives.
The summer is right around the corner. Use these year-end activities to get some valuable feedback and get a head start on your back-to-school prep for the fall. How are you using Piktochart to wrap up the school year? We’d love to hear about it in the comments, or tweet at us and let us know. See you in the fall!