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Memory Boxes, Top 10 Lists, & Packing Up This Year To Prep For Next

Memory Box– Need a great review or assessment technique? Want to give students a chance to show you all they know on a given topic? Or want to know what background knowledge students are coming to you with? Think about using a Memory Box. Students fill a box, frame, page, space, etc. with anything they can on a given topic. This can include lists, drawings, thoughts, opinions, ideas– really, anything. Make this activity digital (students could include images or links in this format) or keep it classic with paper pencil. Either way, give your students time to reflect on their learning and make it visual with this strategy. Want to take it a step further? Try one of these–

  • Class-created Memory Box– Do this activity with the whole class using a shared Google Doc or Slide.
  • Showdown– Students compare their boxes and earn a point for each idea their partner doesn’t have.
  • Expanded or On-going– Use this as a working document where students add notes as they go.
  • “Test” Your Memory– Have students fill a box before taking a test or quiz and use it as a reference throughout, if needed. Or have students fill the box with anything they know but wasn’t tested on at the end of the assessment.

I could also see this being a great page in interactive notebooks next year. Check out more strategies like this from the  resource site for the book Tools for Thoughtful Assessment. There are some great ideas for checks for understanding, processing information, and student data tracking.

Top 10 Lists– As we wrap up another school year, I know a number of teachers ask students to create an end-of-year project to show what they know. One thought would be to have students create a Top 10 List from the year in your content area. We all loved David Letterman’s Top 10’s, so why not use that same concept to have students process information learned? Have students brainstorm a big list of concepts, skills, activities, etc. that were a part of your class this year. Then, have them pull out the top 10 learnings and rank them, leaving the most valuable bit of information for #1. Think about whether you’d like to allow a sense of humor or if you want them to stick to facts/content only. This could be done paper/pencil, or think about utilizing these digital tools–

  •– infographic templates are easy to use. I’m not sure how easy manipulation will be on the iPads– please let me know what you think if you try this out.
  • Google Drawing– students can create infographic-like lists from scratch.
  • Google Slides– have you noticed that capabilities for adding images, text boxes, text effects, etc. is tough in Docs? Utilize Google Slides to give students more capabilities to express their ideas. Google apps are great for collaboration, so think about whether this assignment is best in groups or individual.
  • Piktochart– editable templates much like Canva. I, personally, feel that it is a little more difficult to share your presentation once you’ve created it but worth checking out.

Need some inspiration? Check out some old top 10s from The Tonight Show or check out resources such as Time’s Top 10 Everything of 2016.

Summer Pack-Up– Take a minute to check out this great blog post from Jodi at The Connected Classroom. This site, Upper Elementary Snapshots, features posts from teachers and former teachers with all types of focus areas and expertise. I know the name may be a little off-putting for some of us middle school teachers but there is a wealth of good info here if you just do a little digging. This post in particular is 3 Boxes Teachers Should Pack Before Summer Vacation. Here is the basic idea–

  • Get your back to school materials ready to go this week (maybe while students are taking finals or working on final projects) and save yourself some time in July. Think about including that paperwork you’ll need to give students the first week of school, Back to School Night materials,  lesson plans, notes-to-self, etc.
  • Designate a box for all of your teacher desk “stuff” so that it is easy to bust those things back out after summer cleaning.
  • Place in a box any decoration or set-up supplies you may need to get your space looking fab for your students such as bulletin board items, bins, table numbers, etc.

If you do a little clicking around you’ll see that Jodi has also posted some ideas for making your classroom clutter free (we all want to start that way, don’t we?!) as well other ideas for making the smooth transition from this year to the next. You might also want to scroll through the “About Us” section to find more additions to your professional learning network– many are on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.



Instructional coach and former art teacher on the hunt for tips, tricks, strategies, and knowledge to pass along.

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