The end of every school year is filled with excitement and a certain amount of anxiety, but the end of the eighth-grade year is a particularly meaningful time because the next step is high school. Boosting students' self-confidence, giving some thought to their futures and reflecting on the past year are all valuable considerations when planning an end of the school activity for eighth graders.
Bulletin Board Advice
Brainstorm with students about advice they might want to give to next year's incoming eighth graders. Give suggestions for topics on which they might give advice. For example, they might want to talk about how to handle difficult assignments or how to get involved in eighth-grade activities. Then ask each student to write an approximately 50-word piece of advice. Encourage the students to be specific. Take a digital photo of each student. Post their advice next to their photos on a bulletin board covered with brightly colored paper and have them autograph their advice with a wide-tipped marker.
Letters to Themselves
Two kinds of letters they have written to themselves can be meaningful to eighth graders. If, at the beginning of the year, you have had students write letters to themselves predicting what the year will be like, bring the letters out on the last day of school and give students a chance to read their own letters. Give those kids who want to share their reactions with their classmates an opportunity to do so. Another similar activity is giving students the task of writing letters to themselves about what they think they need to do to become a successful high school student. Explain to students that you will arrange to have the letters delivered to them at the end of their freshman year.
Contact a high school English or speech teacher who would be willing to prepare a couple of students, preferably freshmen, to come to your classroom and talk about what life is like in high school, both academically and socially. They could also talk about what kinds of school activities students might like to join. Prepare your students by having them write questions they can ask the speakers after the presentations.
After talking about what kinds of fun activities kids might be doing in the coming summer, present them each with a Frisbee or similar flying disc. Look for somewhere these can be bought at a discount. Parent organizations often are willing to buy these as favors for an end-of-the-school-year celebration. These can be personalized with the name of the school and the school year. Provide kids with markers and set aside some time for autographing each other's Frisbees.
Eighth Grade Movie Stars
If your school or a willing parent has the technological capabilities, create an end-of-the-year DVD, with each student receiving a copy. Students can put together skits about events of the past school year, give monologues and make predictions about the upcoming high school years. Some of them might even want to sing. For reluctant actors, assign some students the job of helping to organize the "acts" or plan the sets.
- What Every Middle School Teacher Should Know; Dave F. Brown and Trudy Knowles; 2007
- The Middle School Principal's Calendar: A Month-By-Month Planner for the School Year; Robert Ricken and Michael Terc; 2003
Peggy Epstein is a freelance writer specializing in education and parenting. She has authored two books, "Great Ideas for Grandkids" and "Family Writes," and published more than 100 articles for various print and online publications. Epstein is also a former public school teacher with 25 years' experience. She received a Master of Arts in curriculum and instruction from the University of Missouri.