Thursday, June 14, 2012

Making A Difference--Another Year Draws to a Close


I know it seems like I fell off the earth... but it has just been a crazy time...

Sixth grade activities and promotion have filled my life in the last week. My heart is bursting with JOY for my sixth-now-seventh graders and appreciation to all who helped to make our week unfold in such a lovely way!

Last Tuesday, we had Sixth Grade Park Day, a day that includes a picnic and games at the park next to our school. I forgot to take pictures (I was rather busy running three rotations of relay races!), but here are the leftovers. It was so nice to be outside in the sun knowing that our benchmark tests were completed and we were nearing the end of the school year.

Last Wednesday was the Sixth Grade Awards Luncheon. We had a pizza lunch (and used up the leftover soda from Park Day!) Every sixth grader got at least one certificate... but the highlight was when the kindergarten Book Buddies came in to say thank you and share one last hug with their Big Buddies. Nothing like fifty shared hugs to reduce the audience to tears.



On Thursday, we had Sixth Grade Game Day. This is usually my FAVORITE sixth grade celebration. We set up board games all over the room. There are are colored tablecloths and matching tags at each table. Every twenty minutes, the kids get a chance to choose a new game.  This keeps the tablemates rotating, and kids from the three different classrooms have a chance to interact with each other in different combinations.

On Friday, we practiced for promotion and then had cake--right before lunch so they could work off some of that sugar high!

We started Monday with big worries that we might not have enough time to practice songs and signs enough to pull it all together. Since we have some deaf students in our classrooms (and some deaf teachers too), our promotion ceremony is filled with sign language. All of the songs are signed. The speeches are interpreted by a sign language interpreter. In some cases, if a deaf student or teacher is signing, the interpreter voices what is being signed. It is beautiful to watch!

That afternoon, we put out the chairs and transformed the lawn. The blue backdrop was hung and the excitement was building. It was almost time...

I stayed up most of the night finishing certificates, making the banner, and putting finishing touches on the program. And I said more than a few prayers that everything would fall into place. I needn't have worried... while the teacher was a bit frenzied, the students had everything under control. It had become their ceremony.

Tuesday was a whirlwind. Balloons were filled and attached, the banner was hung, programs were folded and certificates were signed and sealed.

And then it was time...

The theme was "Make a Difference," so students' speeches focused on how our school has made a difference in their lives... and how they will use their school experience to make a difference in the lives of others.  Students talked about overcoming shyness, learning to speak English, learning to be happy with their "true self" and finding their possible career--we heard hopes of becoming a professional athlete, an engineer, an artist, an author, an inventor, a Navy SEAL, a neurologist, a video game designer, a chef... and a teacher! My principal shared the "Starfish Story" which illustrated that making the difference in one life is significant and it can become a catalyst for change that benefits many. Finally, each child shared one of their wishes, hopes or dreams... which ranged from having money grow on trees, to wishes for good health, to finding a job to cover the cost of gas prices, to living in a society that could meet everyone's needs, to ending global warming. I was proud and awestruck by their sincerity, their maturity, and their poise.

The students signed "You Have Made a Difference," "One Voice" part of "Graduation" by Vitamin C and, best of all, "Firework" by Katy Perry. That was a crowd-pleaser!

Once the students had received their certificates, one of my students who is deaf and two of my students who are hearing joined together to provide the audience with a little sign language lesson. By combining the letters, "i," "l," and "y," you make a handshape which is the "I love you" sign. With signs and shouts of "I love you," students reminded their parents how much they are loved--and then the parents sent that same message back to the kids. It WAS a day filled with love!

They walked out to "Forever Young," and then, it was over.
                  My students have been promoted to seventh grade.
                                         And I am left to enjoy warm memories of another year completed.

So here I am with my feet in June, my heart in July, and my mind racing toward September...

This was one of my most difficult years of teaching--my students had many diverse needs and I felt like I was always in search of a way to reach them. And yet, in many ways, it was one of my best years of teaching. I know that several of my students will do truly great things.  And I am hopeful that many of them will come back and visit in the years to come.

Becoming a part of the Blogging Community has provided me with many lessons, ideas and strategies to improve my teaching skills. Best of all, I have met a network of colleagues who have walked alongside me--through cyberspace--all year long. Thank you, BlogFriends. I hope you know how much I appreciate you... and I hope you recognize that YOU have made a difference in my life too!


  1. I love this!!!! So sweet! I love all of the traditions.
    I was so happy to see your post--I've missed you!

  2. Yey!!!!!! Congrats to you & the kiddos!!! You got through this year and next year will be MUCH better!
    I second Kristin - I missed ya!!!! Hope you get some much deserved rest!!!

    Big Hugs!!!!!

  3. Your promotion looks fantastic! I think I"m going to need to step it up next year!

    Will Grade For Coffee

  4. Hi Kim! Everything for promotion looks great. Very Cool! I just wanted to let you know that I absolutely added a spot for 6th grade blogs on my More Teaching Blogs page. Thank you for the terrific suggestion and naming it for me. :) Please come on by and link up!

    The Teaching Thief

  5. I think the promotion idea is so neat! I wish we did something like that in my district when the kids switched campuses. I also cannot believe that I was not already a follower! What was I thinking? You were on my blog roll though. :)

    Miss Klohn

  6. I love the theme you choose. SO inspiring. (much better than our "To Infinity and Beyond...whatever that means) I am definitely going to mention game day to my colleagues for next year. That sounds like so much fun! And how cute are you to take pictures of the leftovers from the picnic! :)

    Thank you for sharing your ideas. I am bookmarking this for next year.

    Teaching in Room 6

  7. Everything looks so nice!
    And you are the first person I've ever heard mention the starfish story--usually it is one I share with my teacher friends (as one of my dear education professors shared it with my education major group). I love it, and it is so wonderful to remember. Congrats on the end of a great year! Enjoy some rest!

  8. Oh, Kim - This is amazingly awesome how you sent them off in STYLE! What a wonderful launch. Thanks for inviting us in and letting us be a part of your celebration and memories.

    You are such an inspiration and those tweens are blessed to have you as their mentor and guide!!!!!!

    The Corner On Character

  9. Thanks for dropping by my blog and for sharing about the monster clipart at kpm doodles. I just found {bought} that last week - love it!! Let me know if you see any other great monster finds! :) I'm your newest follower!

    Teaching Maddeness

  10. Kim,
    Thanks for the lovely comment you left on my blog yesterday! I'm glad to hear that someone out there is enjoying my ramblings ;) I absolutely loved reading about your end of the year celebration. I love that it's called a PROMOTION...How cool?!

    I also love how you are including your deaf/hh population in your schools. Believe it or not, there are many schools out there that do not take that into consideration when doing big events/celebrations. So, it makes me so happy to know your school is so involved!

    My class also signed a song this year at our Christmas program. (Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays) Unfortunately, we did not have enough time to do one for our end of the year celebration... (My students were super bummed) But, I look forward to the next time we can do so! :)

    I'm your newest follower! :) Looking forward to reading more from your blog...

    Ramblings of a Deaf Ed Teacher's Mind...

  11. Thanks for your comment the other day---as always it is appreciated! Congrats on your end of the school year festivities---they look amazing. Another year down and a new one full of new children to inspire is right around the corner. Rest up, you and I are tackling this wild grade all over again in a few months. Glad I've joined in this ride! :) Happy Weekend!

  12. Hi Kim! I just had to log in to see the blue graduation cap. Then in reading your post, I had to giggle when you said "come early, the seating is limited". They came early, because when I went to the office during recess (1 hour prior to the event), there were parents in the breezeway already! Also, parents were putting reserved signs on seats before school!
    For those of you who follow Kim, she is an amazing teacher, as you probably know already. 6th grade promotion is an event that all the students look forward to. My 1st graders are already asking about it.
    I wish I could have popped into some of the events this year, but I had my hands full.
    I did pass one girl on her way to the restroom from game day. I asked if she was having a good time and she replied with a beaming face, "YES!",

  13. Kim,
    What a beautiful production for your kiddos :)

    I've missed seeing you. You are right, this blogging community has been fantastic. And, you are one of my favorites!

    Fun in Room 4B

  14. Congratulations to looks like you closed the year in great style. What wonderful memories and learning experiences you have made together!

  15. Wow. I can't even think of what else to say! It must have been so moving!! I love all the details you prepared for your students, Kim you are just incredible. And your photos look awesome! So happy you had such a lovely end to your year :)

  16. Hey Kim! I would love for you to e-mail me! I've got a question to ask and didn't see an e-mail for you here.

    Making It As A Middle School Teacher

  17. Holy holy....that must have Created a lot of memories an energy!!! Your kiddos are lucky to have you ...what a special moment!!!!!

    Holly @crisscross applesauce in first grade

  18. Very cute blog, Kim! I just barely jumped into the blogging world of teaching and I am completely inspired by creative teachers like you! I also teach 6th grade and absolutely love it.


  19. Unrelated reply - I did get your comment about the Rock Ceremony & don't know how else to reach you. I'm amazed you found that post - it was ages ago that I wrote it. I teach 4th now, and it works at any grade, really. I finally made a powerpoint of Byrd Baylor's poem because I could never find my copy when I needed it! It's also easier for the kids to see. Enjoy the idea! I borrowed it from someone else and expanded on it, no doubt you'll do the same. Thanks for your generous comment.


  20. Love your blog- and your graduation ideas (even if I teach Kinders)!



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