Every year, I end my classes with a little “good bye and good luck” speech. It is relatively anti-climactic. This year, I was looking for something more. I stumbled across Dave Stuart Jr.’s Pop Up Toast Idea.
I thought this was a really good way to end the year and I will definitely do it again. It was a great culmination to the year, it taught an important life skill, it required the students to also be reflective (as opposed to me doing all of the reflection), and it was cheap to do.
I’ll start with the latter first. It was cheap. I bought 200 dixie cups and 12 liter bottles of Sprite. It cost be $18. I WAY over-bought. I only needed about 4 liter bottles for 5 classes. The cups only hold about an ounce of soda. I will remember to buy much less next year. In the meantime, I will be looking for interesting uses for Sprite.
I loved the life lesson that it taught the students. As Dave says, the toast is an important aspect of life. My 1.5 year old already knows how to say “cheers”. This isn’t an indication of how much we drink. It is an indication of our belief in the need to celebrate small and large accomplishments with a clanking of classes and a “cheers”. I explained this to my students and explained to them that I wanted them also to have this skill.
Usually the reflection on the year is very much a teacher task. I feel like students are so excited to be on break that they don’t take time to think about where they have come. I wanted this year to be different. On finals day, my students completed a reflective essay and then we started the Pop Up Debates. Using the quickwrite and the Think Pair Share, every student thought about the class community and our shared experiences.
When it came down to the sharing with the class, few students actually shared. We all have different relationships with different classes and each class has a unique dynamic. This toast was an indication of the sense of community in each class. Classes with a strong sense of community had a lot of students share. In other classes, very few students shared. It definitely made me think about the classes where a lot of students shared. Had I done anything different in these classes? Was it just the dynamic of the kids? I did notice that even the classes where more students shared, there was still an uneasiness to standing up and speaking. We have written a tremendous amount this year and the uneasiness of writing has definitely dwindled. In order to lessen the uneasiness with speaking, my students need to speak more often throughout the year. I may try to incorporate some Pop Up Debates and other forms of public speaking.
Overall, I thought that it really ended the class on a good note. I gave the final toast. I actually created a Google Slide show (insert eye roll). I used their notes on our class wall to drive my ideas. I thought it was fun and I was pretty happy with how the end product came out (see my presentation). After it was all over, I made my class get together for a class selfie. All in all, I thought this was a much better way to end the year. Much better than my thrown together good-byes of the past.