An important part of helping students grow into their unique identities as readers and preparing them for lifelong reading is reflection. As the school year winds to a close, it’s the perfect time to engage students in this kind of metacognition. Asking students to reflect on their reading journey will help them celebrate growth and give them a chance to create new goals and plans for reading. Not only will reflection help readers move forward, but it will also guide you in your efforts to reach your young readers.
When you know what your readers are proud of, what books they loved, what gave them confidence, what challenged them, and what they are thinking at the end of the year, you’ll be better able to serve the next round of readers that you meet in the fall. In other words, reflection is a win-win, so it’s worth setting aside some time for it at the end of the school year.
Here are a few of my favorite ways to get readers reflecting, discussing, sharing, and celebrating a year of reading in your middle or high school ELA classroom. I hope these end-of-the-year reading activities help both you and your students.
One easy but powerful way to wrap up a year of reading is speed discussion, a student-centered discussion strategy that engages every single student at the same time. During this activity, students are paired up with their classmates for rounds of “speed discussion.” Each round, students rotate to a different peer and discuss a different question or prompt. It’s perfect for discussing reading because students get to chat with a variety of fellow readers that they otherwise might not connect with during independent reading. There are a few different ways you can spin this activity:
- Facilitate speed discussion as students are finishing their last choice books of the year with this Independent Reading Speed Discussion resource.
- Encourage reflection about students’ reading identities, interests, habits, and preferences by wrapping up the year with this Reading Identity Speed Discussion resource.
- Wrap up the year with this editable End of the Year Speed Discussion resource that prompts students to reflect on the class and school year as a whole.
IMPROMPTU BOOK ADVERTISEMENTS
Whether you have a whole lesson or a few minutes to spare, give your students a chance to deliver impromptu book advertisements. Think impromptu debates, but with books! It sounds simple, and it totally is! But your students will get into it, especially if you model with a passionate, fun, or ridiculous book talk. You’ll get silly, serious, and everything in between, but the best part is that you’ll get to celebrate your reading community and end the year with some fun memories. You can even ramp up the competition by asking students to vote on who did the best job “selling” their book and give the winner ultimate book bragging rights!
While students are reflecting on their reading, make sure they have time and space to share and celebrate their favorite books of the year. Better yet, find a way for them to memorialize their favorites so you can have a stash of student-approved book recs for next year’s readers. One way to do just that is through a #BestBooksEver mini-project. Ask students to create a slide showcasing their favorite book, and then compile all of the slides into a “class ebook.” PDF it, print a copy, and create a binder or fun display so you’ll have a special memory of your students and their favorite books. You can find the #BestBooksEver slide pictured below in my End of the Year ELA Learning Stations.
INDEPENDENT READING PROJECT
Love all of these ideas but want to give your students more choice in how they celebrate their favorite book or reflect on a year of reading? Give them freedom and a few parameters and see what they come up with. I’ve had students create book trailers, websites, podcasts, ABC books, and more. The possibilities are endless, but you’ll never know what students will dream up until you give them the chance.
6-WORD SUMMARY ACTIVITY
Want to get students thinking creatively, spark some curiosity, AND create an intriguing display for next year’s readers? Try a 6-word summary activity! With this interactive foldable, students will carefully craft a 6-word summary on the front while hiding the title and a summary on the inside. Curious readers will have fun guessing the books from their summaries and adding new titles to their to-read lists.
To prove my point, just check out the example summary in the photo below. DON’T YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT THAT BOOK IS? Hint: It’s YA…it’s brand new…it’s mixed media…and it’s incredible. To learn the name of this mystery book, head to the comment of this Instagram post. You’re welcome. 🙂
INDEPENDENT READING AWARDS/SUPERLATIVES
Whether you do independent reading projects or not, hosting a round of “reading rewards” or superlatives is a fun way to end the year. I usually do this in conjunction with project presentations, and I ask students to “nominate” their peers for awards while their classmates present. I give students a couple labels and ask them to create their own superlatives, too. Then, after students have presented their projects, I take all the nominations and use them to give each student a fun award certificate. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Most Passionate Reader
- Most Likely to Go Viral on Booktok
- Reader With the Best Book Recs
- Most Persuasive Presenter
- Most Creative Reading Project
- Reader of the Most Unique Books
- “Wild Card” Reader (student who will read ANYTHING)
- Most Likely to Become a Librarian
- Most Likely to Convince You to Read a Book You’d Love
- Reader of Books With the Weirdest Settings
BOOK STACK POSTER PROJECT
Similar to the #BestBooksEver activity, a book stack poster project is a great way for students to create a visual record of their favorite books and celebrate a year of reading. To do this, create a template from these visual book rec posters and assign it to students. With this blank template, students can create a stack of everything they read or their top 10 favorites of the year. You can also make this a collaborative activity and give groups of students the chance to create books stacks by topics, genres, or essential questions. For example, students could create “Our Favorite Books with Plot Twists” or “Our Favorite Survival Stories” posters. Again, you can compile these book stacks into an ebook or binder or create a fun display for next year’s students.
READING REFLECTION & DISCUSSION
All of these activities are fabulous and fun, but don’t forget about a good, old-fashioned reflection. Whether you use a paper-and-pencil form, digital doc, or tool like Google forms, a more formal reflection can help students look back on their reading journey and celebrate their growth. Better yet, this will give you great data that you can use to reflect on your teaching practices as you plan for the following year.
But don’t stop there! After students complete a formal learning reflection, give them an opportunity to share out some of their successes, strengths, goals, and feedback. Arrange your chairs in a circle and invite students to engage into an open discussion over some of the reflection questions. Take the time to really listen to them and you’ll learn a lot about the community of readers in your room!
You can find digital and print reflection resources in my End of the Year ELA Learning Stations.
Looking for a way to get readers interacting, sharing book recommendations, and planning for future reading? Try independent reading bingo! Create a simple BINGO card and fill it with prompts to help students reflect on the year, connect with fellow readers, and explore books to read over the summer or the following school year. The best part of this activity is that you can jump right in and join all of the bookish fun with your students. You’ll love bonding over your favorite books with students and watching them connect with each other, too.
I hope these end-of-the-year reading activities help you enjoy your last few days of school with your readers! For more end of the year ideas, check out the following blog posts:
- 15 Easy & Meaningful End-of-the-Year Activities for Middle/High School ELA
- 5 Engaging ELA Projects for the End of the Year
WANT IDEAS FOR THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR, TOO?
Stay tuned for another blog post later in the summer. In the meantime, keep in mind that some of these activities can be adapted for the beginning of the year, too. For example…
- Start the year strong by facilitating conversations about students’ reading identities, habits, and preferences with speed discussion at the beginning of the year.
- Help students get to know other readers and share book recs with reading bingo or this fun classroom library scavenger hunt activity.
- Model how to reflect on your own reading identity with some of the activities, such as book advertisements or book stack posters, and then ask students to complete them later in the year.
NEED MORE IDEAS FOR TEACHING READING? YOU’RE IN THE RIGHT PLACE!
Independent reading is my jam, and this blog is a gold mine if you’re looking to level up your independent reading game! Whether you’re looking for book recs, engaging activities, or practical advice, I’ve got you covered. Here are some blog posts you might love:
- Engaging Students in Independent Reading: 5 Must-Listen Podcast Episodes
- Tips & Tricks for Managing Reading Conferences
- 5 Ways to Help Your Students Fall in Love with Reading
- Creating a Strong Classroom Library: Part 1
- Booksource Classroom: All About this Free Library Checkout System (Part 1)
- How to Give Students Better Book Recommendations: Part 1