The end of the school year is a time when educators and students alike may begin to lose focus. With the anticipation of summer break, both teaching and learning can become a challenge. Eighth-grade teacher Michelle asked the WeAreTeachers HELPLINE! for suggestions on fun activities to engage her class during the last week of school. Here are ideas from fellow teachers to help you squeeze the last bit of learning (and fun!) out of the final days of school!
1. Year-in-Review Scrapbook
As a class, brainstorm themes for each of the pages of a scrapbook that illustrates the past school year (i.e., field trips, favorite books, favorite lessons, etc.). Assign each student one or more pages to create with photos, drawings and words. You can photocopy the finished book, so each student has one to take home.
2. Guide for Future Students
Helpline! teacher Nichole suggests having your current students create a guide for next year’s class (i.e., “Eighth Grade for Dummies”). Students can reflect on all they’ve learned throughout the year, and create a CliffsNotes version of the information. The guide can also include tips for future students, such as, “Don’t forget to bring bring a pencil to math class because you aren’t allowed to write in pen.”
3. Letters to Future Selves
Ask your students to compose letters to themselves to be read at a later date. You can ask them to write about their future expectations, as well as their dreams and goals. Helpline! teacher Sonja recommends having students put the letter in a self-addressed, stamped envelope, and when they are seniors in high school, you can mail it to them. Helpline! teacher Elisabeth adds, “Only do the letters if you’re going to follow through, and make sure they are mailed.”
4. How-To Demonstrations
Let your students become the teacher for a day. Helpline! teacher Heather shares, “Last year my eighth graders did demonstrations the last week of school … They taught the class how to fold origami, braid hair, make cupcakes and apply makeup. Every student had to get up in front of the class to present and had to turn in a written step-by-step outline. It was so fun and memorable for all of us!”
5. All-Day Festival
Helpline! Teacher Marielle says, “We are having an all-day math festival with puzzles, brain teasers, games competitions and trophies. The kids designed it, and my top peer tutors are the judges. We are working in course level teams, using our rubrics to score and using the depth of knowledge as a multiplier for the total points earned.” This idea could work for just about any subject, like a “Science Celebration” including demos and experiments or a “History Hoopla” with trivia challenges.
6. Reverse Pictionary
Play a following-instructions game with your class. Helpline! teacher Linda explains, “One student gives the class directions for drawing something, like a baseball diamond. The student giving directions cannot say words like, ‘baseball’ or ‘diamond’ and cannot use baseball terms. It was fun to see what students drew.”
7. Children’s Books
Ask your students to write and illustrate a picture book or young reader’s version of a topic you covered in class this year. Examples include a picture book about the human body or an abridged version of a novel. After the books are complete, students can visit the elementary school to read them to younger students.
What fun and engaging lessons do you have planned for your middle school class during the last days of school? Share in the comments section.