I might be a no frills kinda gal, but I am also nostalgic and love reflecting on the awesome year we share as a class. We know as educators that reflection is a critical part of growing as learners and people. Reflection serves us in many ways, especially in helping us strive for what we need and want next. Like all of my learning experiences, this one does not lack substance and support from me.
I’ve done memory book type activities before–and it hasn’t always been successful. I found a cool template, printed a booklet for each kiddo, stood before them to present it and show an example I made and then sent them off to go it alone. Walking around I began to wonder if we were in the same classroom–pages are half completed or they simply can’t remember everything I hoped they would. So I get internally frustrated and question why I decided to do this (and waste time) in the first place. Of course I’m probably being a little crazy, always having high expectations, even for a memory book, but it made me reflect and make a change.
Enter my new and improved approach to this usually kid favorite activity matched with support from me! Here are the ways I organized and revamped this experience.
- I designed pages that I thought would be fun, but also meaningful for students’ books.
- I created a digital version (on Google Slides) and a paper version to offer students a choice (#always). Before wasting ANY paper, I asked students to choose which they would like–computer version or printed version.
- Students who selected the printed version received a sheet that had all the pages they could put in their book. Rather than make identical books for these kids, I decided to take a few extra minutes of my time to not waste paper and give them the pages they would actually use. I asked them to circle all the pages they wanted and then I tallied and copied accordingly. Then I invited some students to do community service to quickly put together the books for these students since all the pages were just a little bit different.
Here is the MOST important change I made:
4. We generated ideas for EACH page as a class. I quickly drew the pages on large pieces of chart paper and put them around the room. Groups of students rotated around adding ideas to the chart paper so that when they actually got to do the page in their books, digital or printed versions, they had something that jogged their memories and/or they could refer back to for ideas. Instead of relying on me, they were reminiscing, reflecting and excitedly remembering all the things I had thought in years past they would just remember no problem.
The result? These books were unique, full of special memories and so much fun to create! Coming soon…how we took the memory book to the next level!
Pro tip: Get a parent volunteer to bind them with your school’s binding machine.
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