The Last Few Days of School: Simple Ways to Support Free-Range Summer Reading & Writing

The last few days of school, which once seemed so far-away we could barely imagine them, are on the horizon, coming into sharper relief and clearer focus every day. As your last few days approach, you might consider planning to do a special wrap-up to reading and writing workshop, and set your students up to read and write all summer long. 

Knowing how crazy and hectic the last few days can be, I've created a possible outline of the last five days of school for reading and writing.

Day T Minus 5 Days and Counting: Take Time to Reflect

With five days left of school, you might take 15-20 minutes to reflect on reading workshop by bringing out all the read-alouds and shared reading texts from the year and giving students time to talk with a partner about their favorites. Students might look back through their reading notebooks, or browse the classroom library to make a stack of their most favorite or memorable books. As a class, you could create a list of favorites. You might watch a quick video clip of the class talking about a read-aloud from early on in the year, followed by a more recent video-clip and discuss how they've grown as readers and thinkers.

In writing workshop, you might take 15-20 minutes for students to look through their yearlong writing portfolios, talking with a partner about how they've changed across the year. You might also display all your mentor texts, and your own teacher-created writing for kids to discuss favorites (and not-so-favorites) as a class.

Day T Minus 4 Days and Counting: Making Plans for Living the Writerly (and Readerly) Life

As the end grows nearer, you might consider giving kids a chance to select the type of reading and writing they hope to do over the summer. Encourage them to read and write anything and everything! You could share a list of possible ideas for inspiration like any of these:

Find out if your school can allow kids to take home a baggie of books or a collection of library books to read for the summer. This would be the day to fill those summer book baggies. This would also be a great day to give kids a fresh writing notebook or folder to use over the summer to continue their writing lives. Many schools encourage kids to come back to school in the fall ready to talk about their summer book baggies and summer writing folders/notebooks.

Day T Minus 3 Days and Counting: Make Some Plans

If we really want students to read and write over the summer, they'll need very clear realistic plans and deadlines. Today you might give kids time to create a plan or a calendar for their summer reading and writing. Even the littlest kids can create a plan by drawing a place where they plan to read and write, or making a list of people they'd like to read with. Older kids can mark deadlines for themselves on a calendar.

Day T Minus 2 Days and Counting: Freedom to Read and Write on Their Own

Today is the perfect day to set aside some nice quiet, relaxing time to read and write completely on their own. Put on some soft music in the background, turn down the lights -- better yet, go outdoors if you can, and give kids time to practice summer reading. At the end of their quiet reading and writing time, they might reflect in writing or by talking with a partner on what they think will be easy about summer reading and writing, and what they think might be challenging.

Last Day of School!

On the last day of school, you might celebrate by sending home special reading and writing tools, along with their book baggie, writing notebook/folder and plans. I always loved "Reading Kits" and "Writing Kits" that contained special pens, post-its, bookmarks, flashlights for reading under the covers and other book-lover goodies to inspire kids to read and write all summer long.