This is a great time for students (and teachers) to actively reflect on their year. Taking time to think about what has been achieved this year both academically and personally is a great way to help students feel a sense of competency and closure at this time of the school year. Self-reflection can also help students to set goals for the coming year, and create a plan to help them achieve their goals and aspirations.
There are many different activities that can be used to achieve this but one that is effective and simple is to write a letter.
Written letters can be adapted from two or three sentences in the early years, to several pages in the upper years. They can be a simple text to more elaborate genres including drawings or photos of the year, or even in book format with an idea or memory on each page.
Ideas for recipients of letters:
To you, their class teacher – listing 3 to 5 of their favourite activities, areas of study, or something that stood out as special or significant this year, and why, and perhaps one or two things they didn’t like so much. Some students might like to also include one specific thing you did that helped them with their learning.
To themselves – listing one or two things they are proud of achieving this year (it may be something very small), and 3 to 5 things they would like to achieve next year, and how they plan on achieving each goal. You can send or hand these letters back to the students at the beginning of Term 2 next year, so they can review their progress.
To someone at school who helped them this year (principal, teacher, student, support staff) – including how they helped, the actions they took, and how this was of benefit to them.
To a new student coming into the class next year – a guide about how to ‘survive’ in your class including what to expect and four or five things that might help them with their work, such as asking for help, practising their handwriting at home or using polite speech. Explain to the class that you will share these with your new students, so remind them to keep their letters positive, as you don’t want the new students to worry too much on their first day of school!
Prior to writing the letters:
Brainstorm ideas as a class that are relevant to the letter they will be writing and display them. Have students reflect back on their year, what they did well, who helped them and what helped them feel good about themselves, and what they want to achieve or are looking forward to next year.
This may also include:
- Highlights of the year, including favourite projects, memories, activities, excursions, areas studied.
- What they’ve learnt or achieved.
- Things to do and no to do
- What (you) the teacher is like.
Teach a mini-lesson on writing letters and provide a letter template if needed, before drafting the letter. Explain the format for letter writing including addressee, date, greeting, body, and sign off. Include points on writing friendly, polite letters and include examples. Doing a web-search for gratitude or thank you letters can help.