The end of the year is like a curtain closing on a long, dramatic play. Like any good playwright, we want to go out big! But, the end of the year poses it’s own challenges: wrapped up curriculum, checked-out attitudes, and lots of paperwork. What end-of-the-year activities will keep your students engaged until the end while also providing meaningful closure? Fear not! I have five great activities so you can rock your final curtain call. And, if they request an encore, I have some backups for you too.
This is an awesome digital resource for the end of the year, but you might even want to use it for yourself anytime of the year. To use this free service, you simply write an email to your FutureMe and pick a date in the future for it to be delivered. It’s a perfect wrap up the school year because it includes both reflection and prediction. Here are the directions I give: Write a letter to your FutureMe to be delivered on [this day] exactly one year from now. In your letter include these four things: 1) A reflection on this school year, 2) a prediction on your future, 3) a piece of advice to your FutureMe, and 4) a reminder to email or visit [your name] at this time next year.
It really works too! At graduation this year, I had many students tell me to expect an email from them next year. What a great way to keep in touch with your former students! This is a one-day lesson, so it would be perfect as a meaningful one-day filler or a last-day activity.
There are podcasts for just about any area of interest or expertise. I found three engaging and meaningful podcasts from The Chalene Show to play for life advice at the end of the year, and it’s worked out really well. What makes these three podcasts really great is that they all include some type of interactive component, list making, reflecting, and taking a quiz. This makes the podcasts interactive, and it helps the students stay engaged so they don’t zone out while listening. In addition, the three topics are really important for getting organized, finding your purpose, and checking your attitude. I suggest you listen and follow along too!
Episode 227 The Key to Getting Organized: For this one, they will be asked to get out a piece of paper and pencil and follow along to prompts.
Episode 147 What the Heck is Your Purpose: They will also be asked to get out pencil and paper for this one too.
Episode 155 Oh No! Your Attitude is Showing!: There is a quiz for this one.
These episodes are all around 30 minutes, so for me with 40-minute periods, we have time to discuss the content. The podcasts work great independently or as a group of three.
3. Email etiquette
Again, credit goes to my husband for this awesome lesson. He found an excellent article called, “U Can’t Talk to Ur Professor Like This” by Molly Wharton. Wow! This article is so pertinent to our high school students as they prepare for post-secondary education and the real world. As a part-time college professor, I know all too well how my college students lack email etiquette.
Start off by reading the article as a class. You could use this article analysis guide to analyze the modes of persuasion and the tone.
Discuss the article as a class.
Review this website, linked in the article, to discussion email etiquette.
Then, give several scenarios and ask students to compose an email based on that scenario, e.g. your digital gradebook says you have a zero for an assignment you know you completed, you missed class and you can’t find the homework, you are sick and can’t attend class, you are unhappy with your grade on an essay, etc. You might even ask a few students to intentionally write unacceptable emails so you can point out the flaws.
Instruct students to read their emails to the class and ask the class to critique the emails.
This process can be a lot fun, and more importantly, it can teach real-world 21st century skills that our students so desperately need. Students need to learn these skills, and the end of the year is a great time to fit it in your curriculum.
Really, who doesn’t love charades? This one is so simple, but it’s really a ton of fun! All you need to do is come up with a list of terms, concepts, ideas, vocabulary, etc. that relate to your class. Write them down on slips of paper and then play charades. I like using charades as a review game (shown below), but you can use it as a standalone game.
I’m working on a really fun review game for AP exam test review that I 100% stole from my husband’s constitutional charades review game because our students requested it. 😜 (He teaches AP Gov and US, and I teach AP Lit and Lang. 👨🏻🏫👩🏼🏫) #apliterature #apgov #teachercouple #teacherlife #igteachers #iteachela #teachersfollowteachers #classroomfun #classroomgames #makeitfun
Follow me on Instagram @doc_cop for more teaching tidbits!
5. Film study
Of course, I couldn’t write about the end of the year without including some movie suggestions. This seems to be the go-to for most teachers. It keeps your students entertained and out of trouble. But, we’re not talking about watching a movie just to keep them busy and fill time. A film study requires a focused and thoughtful analysis of the film. Here are two ideas for you that could be applied to humanities classes:
I use Life Is Beautiful, the Italian tragicomedy, for my end-of-the-year film study. Because my students dive deep into tragedy, like Macbeth, and comedy, such as The Importance of Being Earnest, this film acts an engaging denouement to the year. As a bonus, the film is in Italian so they have to read subtitles. You can find my film study unit here.
My husband who teaches AP Government and Politics and senior government shows 12 Angry Men, a classic courtroom drama starring Henry Fonda. He asks students to write a reflection answering the following prompts:
Explain what each character represents.
Explain which character you most identify with and why.
Analyze the film’s message about democracy and the legal system.
As your curtain closes this year, I hope you can use these ideas to take your final bow with pride knowing you went out big!
Happy (almost) summer!