The end of the year can bring special challenges. Students are wearing down, distracted by summer, or pulled away by testing or other special events. Seniors may get out early, which can disrupt any class with a senior. It may be a time of heavy review and wrap-up in some classes, which can also make it hard for students to remain engaged (such as if they think they already “got it”). It can be tough to keep students on task and make the most of that valuable class time.
Here are some ways to make the most of the end of the year class time:
- (Linked resources are specifically ELA, but the ideas can be applied in other subjects, too.)
- Create a company. This real-world activity is highly engaging. Students in groups or individually can design a company, with goods and/ or services. Use different real-world writing, and practice ‘selling’ the company. (Subject areas may challenge students to make a specific subject-themed business, like environmentalism or math-based services.) This project can be offered as a poster displaying the company, goods/services, and information for small scale, or add additional activities, such as business-letter writing, commercial creation, flyers and more. Minimize for students with less class time due to activities or early-release, build up for others.
- Have fun with review. Challenge students to create review posters and documents for important concepts. Maybe include a contest over the best poster or memory device. Using crosswords and word searches are good ways to reinforce concepts, like literary terms, science vocabulary, or history events. Review games are good, and you can even have students create their own games to review as well (keep the good ones to use again.)
- Challenge students to a retro-active culminating project. They must return to a previous story or concept and create a project about it. It forces students to return to an earlier part of the course to review and refresh. Allow them to design their own culminating project, or choose from a set appropriate for the story or poem or concept.
- Have students do a short research project on a concept or idea from earlier in the course that they want to learn more about. It can be a person, author, or even a reference from a story. Consider taking some of the pressure off the research by relaxing some of the normal requirements– such as number of sources, length of written response, or even format, with allowing their preferred format (including PowerPoint or photo essay.) Using templates for guidance and scaffolding is another way to practice, even at the end of the year.
- Have students Plan a Trip for their summer. Do some real-world research. Subject areas can even add the requirement of making it subject-related (nature related for sciences, for example, or history related for social studies.) This can be a fun way to work in research, as well as writing and presentation of ideas while they create their brochure.
Keeping students busy seems to help the days go by smoother for them, and me. Plus, using projects allows me a lot of flexibility as students are pulled. I’ve even allowed students to spend some of that project time on missing work– for my class, or other classes– if they need to prop up their grade. And, bonus, while they work, I can steal some time to keep up on grading, so that I’m prepared for the end of the school year as well.
What are your favorite strategies and activities for the end of the school year?
And if you’re teaching summer school, check out my summer school strategies.