Looking for ideas to celebrate your students and end this school year on a positive note? End-of-year student awards might be just what you are looking for. Learn how to leverage these creative awards to recognize the various strengths and unique personalities in your classroom.
Using Student Awards to Celebrate Achievement and Growth
With summer right around the corner, many teachers are buzzing around trying to fill those last days with engaging end-of-year activities. Whether you’re looking for a fun, yet meaningful activity or simply need a break from the stressful end-of-year grading crunch, hosting a student award ceremony might be exactly what you need. Don’t get me wrong. Traditional grades serve their purpose and help track student academic success from year to year.
However, they don’t always paint a holistic picture of student success. I’m a big believer in sending all of my students off on a positive note, and end-of-year student awards allow me to do just that. And they can allow you to do the same with your students!
20 End-of-Year Student Award Ideas for Secondary ELA
While grades and assessments are important, the following award ideas provide additional opportunities to recognize students for their unique talents, growth, and positive impact on classroom culture. Feel free to use any award ideas below or let them inspire you to create awards of your own!
- Wordsmith Award: For the student with an outstanding vocabulary and exceptional writing skills. This student consistently wows you with their linguistic prowess.
- Bookworm Award: Presented to the student who demonstrates a genuine love for reading—-including going beyond assigned classroom texts. This student is always devouring a new book.
- Drama King/Queen Award: Awarded to the student who effortlessly brings characters to life during class readings and presentations. They keep their peers (and teacher) engaged with their enthusiastic performances.
- Diligent Detective Award: Given to the student with an exceptional analytical eye in reading and/or writing. This student consistently demonstrates exceptional critical thinking skills, with an impressive ability to unpack the deeper meaning.
- Creative Connoisseur Award: Perfect for the student with an extraordinary imagination, who consistently surprises you with their unique and innovative approaches to assignments and projects.
- Artistic Ace Award: Recognize the student with exceptional art skills. Whether they fill their worksheets with impressive doodles or create masterpiece visuals for projects, this student is impressively artistic.
- Captivating Comedian Award: Every classroom has a class clown, right? This award is perfect for the student who is always providing an innocent laugh to the class.
- Likable Leader Award: Awarded to the student who sets a strong example for their peers. This student leads by example and has a way of setting the tone for their classmates.
- The Sunshine Award: For the student who leaves a little sparkle everywhere they go. Whether it’s a positive attitude or a contagious smile, this student always brightens the room.
- The Donut Award: Awarded to the student who demonstrated resilience throughout the year. They “do-nut” give up in the face of adversity but keep pushing forward to the best of their ability.
- Penmanship Picasso Award: Recognize the student with beautiful handwriting. You never struggle to decipher their written work. Instead, their handwriting is practically a work of art on its own!
- Collaborative Champion Award: Presented to the student who excelled in teamwork and collaboration throughout the year. Whether offering support to their peers or taking the lead on a group project, this student works well with others.
- Growth Guru Award: Recognize a student who showcased significant growth in their ELA skills over the course of the year. You can make this award all-encompassing or hone in on specific ELA skills. Either way, this student displayed dedication to continued improvement.
- Tech Wizard Award: Given to the student who displayed masterful tech-spertise throughout the year. This is perfect for any student who masterfully utilized technology for their assignments or who always lent a helping hand to sort out technology woes in class. Either way, this award celebrates their technological aptitude.
- Tend Alert Award: Awarded to the student who is always up-to-date on the latest trends in fashion or pop culture. This can also be awarded to the student who constantly points out your references that are “so last year” and totally off-trend.
- Empathy Ambassador Award: Celebrate the student who consistently showcases empathy and kindness towards their peers, creating a supportive and inclusive classroom environment.
- Energetic Enthusiast Award: Recognize the student who has an endless supply of energy throughout the school year. This award is perfect for the student who brings enthusiasm to class activities or is always involved in extracurriculars.
- Busy Bee Award: Awarded to the student who is always hard at work. This is for the student who consistently works hard to get their assignments done or who manages to persevere despite having a jam-packed schedule field with academics, extracurriculars, and/or work.
- Pencil Collector Award: Given to the student who is always turning to their teacher or peers for a writing utensil. This student may or may not have a bad habit of not returning the pens or pencils to the rightful owner.
- Passionate Participant Award: Perfect for the student who is always eager to participate in classroom discussions, answer questions, or volunteer to read out loud.
This student sets a positive example of active learning for their peers.
Should I Use End-of-Year Student Awards?
End-of-year student awards are an opportunity to recognize the hard work and unique strengths of all students. They offer an inclusive opportunity to honor and celebrate the various ways your students have grown as individuals and contributed to the overall classroom community.
Whether you pass out student awards individually on the last day of class or host a classroom award ceremony, your students will appreciate the personalized recognition.
As you begin preparing for your end-of-year student awards, keep the following in mind to ensure a fun and inclusive celebration for all:
- Go beyond the basics. Instead, incorporate diverse award categories that capture student strengths and contributions that might not be recognized by traditional grading. Remember, the goal is to find ways to recognize each student.
- Personalization is key. Instead of recycling the same generic rewards with each class, strive to tailor the end-of-year awards to your student’s strengths, personalities, and achievements.
- Ask for student input. If you’re not sure where to start with student awards (or are bogged down by un-graded papers), turn to your students for help! You can let students be as involved as you’d like, letting them pose award categories or nominate student names based on predetermined awards.
- Celebrate effort and growth. Rather than focusing solely on outcomes, consider award categories that celebrate students’ efforts, growth, and positive character traits. This allows even students who struggled with academic content to be recognized for their personal growth and contributions.
- Think outside of the box. While student awards are meant to acknowledge student growth and success, they are also an opportunity to have fun. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box and get a little creative with your award categories. Throw in a few silly awards for an added laugh!
Regardless of how you approach your end-of-year student awards, remember that the goal is to find an inclusive and respectful way to acknowledge and celebrate all your students. It’s about going beyond traditional measures of academic success and recognizing the qualities that make each student shine—and let’s not forget about simply adding some lighthearted fun in those final days before summer vacation.
By celebrating their accomplishments, you not only close the year out with positive vibes and inclusivity but also inspire your students to continue growing and exploring their potential in the years that follow. (And isn’t planting the seeds for long-term success what we’re really after here?)
On that note, congratulations on wrapping up a successful year! And if you have any other creative and fun ideas for end-of-year student awards or celebrations, I’d love to know. Share them in a comment below!