At the beginning of the year, imagine what the end of the year will be like. The Cheshire Cat and Alice put it well. “Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?” “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it? (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll).

Edutopia published an insightful article on this titled “A Powerful Way to End the School Year.” Here are the main elements:

  • Celebrating Learning with Year-End Mapping
  • Use a graphic organizer to create a map of what has been learned
  • Guide students in small groups to ‘remember’
  • Put all the individual group maps on a classroom wall
  • Each student presents a piece of the wall using books, drawings, pictures, notes, articles, or other meaningful artifacts to illustrate

The author suggests inviting students from the grade below to hear the presentations and to be able to look forward to their year with the teacher. Benefits suggested include:

  • A way for teachers to connect with each student around their successful learning journey
  • Motivation to summarize experiences and knowledge – in itself a part of the learning process
  • Group works helps bring to light the different experiences and (good) memories of each student. It thus enriches the total learning experience.

Three questions that the author found helpful were:

  1. What were some key things you learned this year?
  2. How does this activity make you feel as we pull our giant map together and reflect on what we’ve learned?
  3. What are you most excited about learning next year? This question works both for the students leaving the class as well as for the students watching who will be in the class next year.

Of course, this could be adapted to a beginning year activity (what do I know and what do I want to learn) as well as a periodic activity during the year (where am I on my learning journey?)