Thursday, May 21, 2020

12 Terrific Ideas for the End of the School Year

12 Terrific End of the Year Activities

With summer approaching, this can be a "challenging" time to keep students engaged (or merely paying attention lol). What with tests behind them (if they had any!), feeling worn out by a crazy year, and counting down the days until summer, students tend to pay a little less attention (in a normal year let alone abnormal one), while teachers scramble to keep students engaged or just interested in anything. So, here are some terrific ideas to keep them engaged and keep their attention in the final countdown. And have more fun!

1. Story Pass WritingThis is a fun way to collaboratively write a story that will surely have some plot twists! In a distance learning setting, you could organize this by having three students send story pieces to each other. The first person would write the beginning, the second would write the middle, and the last would write the ending. Read below about how it's done in a normal year, so you understand.

In a "normal" year: You can do this in groups or rows of about 5-10 students. When you say start, every student starts writing a story. They shouldn't think about it too much other than quickly choosing a setting and a character. You can nudge them to get going by telling them to write "Once upon a time..." You keep track of time. Decide how long the intervals are: anywhere from one to five minutes. I think three is good personally. Then, you say "pass" and they pass it to the next person and also receive one. They quickly read whatever has been written, and then continue the story in whatever creative way that makes sense. Repeat the process 5-10 times. As it get closer to the end, about two passes before the end, tell them to start bringing the story to a conclusion, wrapping up any loose ends. When it gets to the last person, tell them to write the ending. Remind them they can be creative as long as it makes sense. At the end, have some of them share aloud or pass them around.

2. Read Ray Bradbury's short story "All Summer in a Day": It is not really about summer so much as how students treat each other and what it feels like to be bullied ON ANOTHER PLANET! The story is beautifully written with tons of figurative language and great character development. Plus, an added bonus is the bullies end up feeling bad (which is good). There is a 30 minute video free on YouTube, and if they compare the two versions, they would be meeting the RL.7 standard! Check out my FREE lesson (PDF/Google) that comes with comprehension questions that require them to look for figurative language, so in addition to a few other standards, they are also meeting the L.5 standardPDF or Google Distance Learning FREE LESSON.
3. Put on a Show: These can be written solo, in teams, or you can find ones that have already been written. You could tell them to choose one of their favorite scenes from literature you read this year, or recall something amusing that happened and re-enact it, showcase a talent, or whatever. They can record the videos or somehow perform together by maybe piecing clips together. It can be done...If this is all too much, have them each come up with a graphic meme to share instead. Everyone loves those.

4. "Summer on the Brain" Informational Text and Writing Connections: This is a highly interesting, one page FREE text (PDF or Google Slides) that gives all sorts of information about summer such as school calendars around the world, why summer days are longer, weather, etc. There are writing connections that go with it to get them writing things they are interested in. FREE PDF or Google Distance Learning.
5.Write a 5-senses poem: The topic can be a favorite summer memory, a trip they went on, a place they want to go, anything related to summer. The idea is to use concrete language. It has five lines. See my example below. You can get my free lesson if you want.
6. Reflecting on the school year: Write up a few questions you want everyone to answer so that you can get useful feedback that tells you what went really well and what needs improvement or to be ditched. So, you ask things like "What was your favorite writing activity?," "What was your favorite book we read?" and if you are brave, you can ask them about least favorite things. Something I do that has actually made me happy and boosted my self esteem as a teacher, is, at the end, tell them to write something positive about you as a teacher. 

7. Write a letter to your future self: I have only done this with them writing actual letters by hand and bringing in self-addressed stamped envelopes, but I'm pretty sure email would work, as long as you stayed organized by keeping a separate folder of the emails and labeling with the year to send them the emails they wrote. You have them write a letter to their future selves three years from now. It can be about current events, predictions, positive affirmations, etc. You collect the letters, keep them for three years, and then send them. They forget they wrote them and it is fun to receive them, albeit a little odd...

8. Poetry Slam: Have them read their own poems or recite poems of their choice. See #5 above for a simple idea, plus there is haiku, acrostic, etc.

9. Read about how ice cream is made and Make Baggie Ice CreamCheck out my informational text and tasks that comes with instructions how to make it called "Ice Cream Science": It is really interesting, about a topic they love, and this aligns to RST.6-8.6 RST.6-8.7, and more. Here is a free recipe but there is also one in my lesson.
10. Why are summer days longer and warmer?: Students are always wondering why summer days are longer and warmer, and why it's the opposite in winter. This highly informative text with tasks "Why There Are Seasons," complete with graphics and a simulation, make it all very clear. Plus there are tasks and questions to go with it. Among others, it aligns perfectly to RST.6-8.6 RST.6-8.7and RST.6-8.2. They even have to explain why summer days are longer and warmer (WHST.2).

11: Crazy Covid year calls for a "History of Pandemics" to remind us to see things in perspective with greater understanding. Since it's a crazy quarantine year all about coronavirus (Covid-19), I wrote this fascinating brief history of pandemics and how they've been controlled in the past. It is really interesting and explains a lot that people are curious about! It will spark conversation and you could even have them write an argument for/against vaccination if you want to be brave. Check it out for FREE PDF OR GOOGLE SLIDES:
12. Memorial Day Info Text & Writing: Finally, if it's not too late, teach them about Memorial Day and what the difference is between Memorial Day and Veterans Day and how both came about historically. Very interesting and quick 1-page read with writing connections FREE PDF OR GOOGLE SLIDES.

No comments:

Post a Comment