For the final opener of the year, I give students a dot plot and ask them to make a box plot from the data. The data is real. It shows the current grade for every student in the class. I use Fathom make a different plot for each section I teach.
I check in with kids and give a celebratory welcome as they take the first few minutes to try the task. They work individually and in groups to make sure they can do it. This is a topic that students know they mastered back in the fall, and most completed a problem or two like this during Wednesday's mixed review session in the computer lab, so it's fresh enough for kids to get it done without too much input from me.
When I see that everyone is nearly done, I ask for a volunteer to sketch their work on the board, using the number line that's already set up for the dot plot. Kids will remember that we drew a box plot on a dot plot earlier in the year. Then as now, seeing these two representations together helps to make it clear that the median splits a list in half, and the quartiles divide the data into quarters. "Just like the other opening tasks you've seen over the last few weeks, you can expect to see a few problems like this on the final exam," I say, before taking the opportunity to remind students what they can expect from the exam. "You'll have one hour to work individually on the multiple choice section, then another hour for group problem solving. On the multiple choice part, you will see a data plot or two, and you'll have to use the data to answer some questions." I ask students if they can tell me the range, the IQR, the mode and mean of this data set. If anyone has trouble with any of these words, I remind them that they should be developing useful cheat sheets.
This opener naturally encourages reflection on the year. Students will look at the data as a whole and reflect on how well their class has done overall. They'll try to figure out which dot belongs to them, and although they're often able to figure it out, I don't let on about anything here. I do join in on thinking about the year. I might ask students to recall what this plot would have looked like back in October, and I tell everyone to be proud of what they've accomplished this year.
Following the opener, there is time for students to work on whatever they want. I keep things light today. Enough students will bring enough urgency to class that I'll follow their lead, but I don't put pressure on anyone who isn't feeling it.
Some students want to continue on yesterday's group problem solving work, which is my favorite scenario. It's a blast to dig deeper into this problem, to assess what students have done so far, and to try to arrive at a solution.
Some students will want to put the finishing touches on their individual work or their cheat sheets, and that's ideal too. I invariably have to calm a few kids down, telling them that they'll do fine on the final if take some time each day to prepare, get enough sleep, and stay hydrated.
There will also be kids who don't want to do much, and I'll just make sure to chat and check in about the upcoming summer, without the pressure of pushing toward the end of the year.
With ten minutes left, I ask everyone to circle up, just like we did on the first day of school. Students will have a lot to say, and they'll naturally want to reflect on the year. We started class by looking at some data, and we're ending with a structure that's been in place all year. Memories will flow. I give students time for that.
If they need prompting, which is unlikely, I might ask students about the first day of school. What did we do? How did you feel? How do you feel now?
After the kids have had the mic for a few minutes, I ask for everyone's attention and I give a little end of year speech. It's heartfelt, encouraging, laced with inside jokes, totally cheesy, and impossible to record here. It's different for each class. I'll tell specific students how proud I am and why, talk about how far they've come, make a joke about something ridiculous I did back in October, make a joke about something ridiculous a kid did in October, and I'll share a favorite quote or two from the end of year reflection.
Finally, we do a final round of Appreciations. Everyone gets to give one last shout out to their classmates. What can I say? It's the last day of class - you know how special it is - we get to look each other in the eye and recognize that we've just done something important and real together. Anything I could write here wouldn't sound right, but in the moment, it's exactly what it should be.