Ending the Year Strong (without resorting to movies…)

I’m so tired. Aren’t you tired? I saw this meme today and really, nothing has ever felt more true.

Screen Shot 2019-05-14 at 9.29.01 PM

And we still have miles to go before we sleep…

For this post, I want to share some smart ways that the teachers I work with are ending the year strong, so they and students can stay awake.


Rachel wanted her students to spend time storytelling before the end of the year. After the crush of testing, she wanted students to be engaged in writing about their own lives. We tried out StoryCorps.

Students brainstormed lists of people to talk to and used the StoryCorps app to generate questions. After they interviewed, they then talked about finding a powerful moment in the interview. Using the StoryCorps videos as their mentor texts, students are immersed in AdobeSpark, making their own videos.


In Emilyn’s (@Pena_WC) sophomore English class, students have just completed a round of book clubs reading novels in verse (read more about these in Julie’s post). They devoured the books and loved talking about them together. As a summative assignment, the folks at Teach Living Poets inspired us to have kids create a podcast modeled after Tracy K. Smith’s podcast “The Slowdown.”

Students chose a poem from their novel in verse, and in their group, they decided how to talk about the poem. Students have been thinking deeply about the poems and the way they exist in the larger text.

Once students publish, classmates will listen and sketchnote (If you want to know more about sketchnoting, check out Tanny McGregor’s book Ink & Ideas).

Your Year In a Book

I work with a wonderful teacher, Tiffany (@tiffwalters), who is always brimming with ideas. The best part of my job is when I get to support her in bringing her ideas to life. One day she came in and told me she was thinking about having her kids write about their sophomore year in the form of a book. But instead of the actual book, she wondered what would happen if they focused on the parts of a book: the Acknowledgments, the Author’s Notes, the dedication.

I was hooked! We gathered books that have those components (Internment by Samira Ahmed is a great mentor!) and Tiffany set them out for students to browse. They made lists of their noticings, and got to work.

Using Book Creator, students are creating books about their year, incorporating the editorial elements, and three original writing pieces that illustrate their year. The students are mining blog posts they’d written this year to revise and shape into reflective pieces.

The students are stretching themselves as writers and thinkers, and it will be amazing.

There are so many ideas like this happening in the schools where I work. In your schools too, I bet. I love how all these teachers are relying on the rhythm of workshop: looking at mentor texts, creating authentic audiences, writing, revising, and growing.

The great thing about these ideas too is that if you’re reading this post and thinking, “oh, I love that idea, but it’s too late in the year to try it,” bookmark this post and come back to it in August. Any of these ideas would be a great way to start the year too.

What are you doing to make the most of the last part of your year?

Angela Faulhaber is a literacy coach in Cincinnati, OH. She has 10 pages left in Internment by Samira Ahmed and is already missing the Layla. 

2 thoughts on “Ending the Year Strong (without resorting to movies…)

  1. […] to continue the learning, the fun, and the reflecting. As Angela wrote, it’s important to end the year strong, and on a positive […]


  2. […] to continue the learning, the fun, and the reflecting. As Angela wrote, it’s important to end the year strong, and on a positive […]


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