Sometimes your last school counseling lesson of the year comes so close to the end, that it doesn’t seem helpful to teach a new social emotional skill. Or you’re looking for a lesson that feels like it provides some closure for you and the students. It can seem like after having one million different things you want to cover in guidance that you’re blanking when it comes to the last lesson. Over the years, I’ve done a few different “end of the year” guidance lessons in school counseling. These are some of my favorites:
The Invisible String
We all love The Invisible String. While the story is often used when processing grief and loss, the idea can also be used at transitions and showing students how they will always be connected. I wrote a whole post about how I did this lesson, but the short of it is that you read the story, then do a modified compliment circle while passing around string until everyone is connected!
Virtual idea: Use Jamboard! Or a Google Slide. Make little “people” for each student and put them in a circle on the board. Then draw lines to connect them as they go.
Distancing Idea: Have students write their names on sticky notes and put them on the whiteboard in a circle. Give each student their own dry erase marker. The first person gives a compliment to the second person and draws a line between their sticky notes on the board. The second person then gives a compliment to a third person and draws a connecting line. Then it continues until everyone is connected and you have a dry erase line web!
My students really benefitted from sentence stems for their compliments; here’s what we used:
I’ve also ended the school year using a “chalk talk” or “silent talk” or “carousel” activity (I think there’s a million names for it). I write reflection questions on sticky chart paper and post them around the room. Then each student gets a marker and everyone walks around answering the questions. I give them the direction that they need to answer each question and then go back around and read other peoples’ responses. Depending on the class, I also model for them and encourage them to interact with one another’s responses (star, underline, add to them, etc.). The questions can be about reviewing and reflecting on guidance lessons throughout the year. They can also be about processing and reflecting the ending of one school year and the beginning of another. I did a combination of both! These are ones I’ve included:
- What is your biggest hope or goal for next year?
- What advice would you give yourself for this year if you could go back in time?
- What is your favorite lesson that you did with me? Why is that your favorite lesson?
- What is 1 thing you hope to do differently or better next year?
- What is a memory from this year in XX grade that you want to remember? It could be something really fun that you did in class, something really funny that happened, or some other type of memory.
- What questions do you have about next year?
Virtual idea: You can use Jamboard or Google Slides for this, too.
Processing Task Cards
I’ve done something similar but using discussion question cards and quiz-quiz-trade. Everyone gets a card with a question reflecting and processing on the upcoming transition and then walks around partnering up and answering questions together. I model the logistics of it to start, especially if we have only done the activity once before in lessons – things like raising your hand to show you need a partner, listening to your partner, finding a partner close to you, etc.
At the end, if time allows, we either circle up and discuss some of the questions whole group or students complete the reflection worksheet. The questions I usually choose for us to talk about whole group are:
- Sharing a moment they are proud of from the year
- A question they have about the new year, a favorite memory
- What they’re excited about for the new year
Going Digital and Virtual
When the pandemic hit and schools closed their buildings, I worried about the students who didn’t get to say good-bye or process the change. I created a virtual/digital transition lesson to help make what happened more concrete and give them a chance to think through their thoughts and feelings. While this school year will close in a more expected or typical way, there’s still a need for virtual and/or social distancing end of the year guidance lessons or SEL transition lessons. If you need something zero prep to low prep that you can use for all of your “big kids” (2nd-5th grade) no matter the setting, this End of the Year Transition Lesson is super easy to use and really interactive even if kids have to stay at their desks or use their computers.
What about you? How do you like to end the school year with your core curriculum? One year, I’d love to do some sort of project that they leave for the class that comes after them!