One of the many end-of-the-year rituals in Japan is the choice of a single kanji to represent that year's events. I'm not very familiar with the details, but it's usually revealed on TV in the later part of December and makes it through the national news.
So, with that in mind, you can ask the students to think of what kanji best represents their experiences this year. In fact, they may have already done it in their Japanese class. It can be something profound or silly, as long as they write a reason.
To give them some ideas, I come up with my own kanji ahead of time (for example, I might write "旅", tabi, in a year where I've done a lot of traveling) and then write my reason on the board ("Because I traveled to Tokyo, Nagoya, and the US this year."). Then I'll ask the JTE for their kanji and reason. With those examples in mind, I ask each student to write their own. It may be helpful to remind them that since they're writing about their experience over the year, they need to write in past tense.
Once the students are ready, I ask them to interview each other about their kanji of the year. Also, check out the hairdos that the students draw on the monk!