You’ve spent many late nights this year bathed in the glow of your screen researching how to keep your students engaged. You’ve ranted about standardized testing with the best of them. You’ve baked cookies for special events, for heaven’s sake. You are not about to end the year with a boring final exam.
Can I get an “Amen?”
So if you’re trying to figure out how to keep things creative to the very end, here are five unconventional exams you can use as alternatives to the same old scantron.
1. The YouTube Exam
These days many careers require video content creation, why not start students learning how to do it now? Draw on their natural leaning toward all things digital and social—have them show their understanding of the course by creating a YouTube channel for it. In groups or alone, let students pick four or five of the most crucial topics from the year and explain them in a video. Gather the videos together in a course YouTube channel to watch on the last day of school. Bonus: these unconventional final exams can be used next year as helpful content for your next students.
2. The Social Platform Exam
Let students make your course into a brand and give it a feed on social media, demonstrating their ultimate knowledge along the way. What would the Instagram account for Algebra 2 be like? The Twitter feed for American government? The Facebook page for Honors Biology? Give your students good specifics on exactly what knowledge they need to demonstrate, then let them get creative. Finish the year with a social media conference in which students share the accounts they’ve created.
3. The Video Game Exam
Gamification is everywhere in education right now; why not turn the planning over to the class? For these unconventional final exams, let each student invent a video game for your material, planning out obstacles, levels, bonuses, and bad guys. Let them know which aspects of your course, in particular, you want them to focus on, or give them a list and let them choose. Use the time set aside for final exams to have students present their games to each other in small groups or rotating partners.
4. The Road Trip Exam
Invite students to create an educational road trip for someone who needs to learn the material from your class. What five places would the learner visit and what would they study in each place? Have them mock up advertising materials for the trip with a full explanation for each destination. Will the tourists begin on Mount Olympus, watching a play about the Greek Gods? Will they travel to Gettysburg to tour the battlefields and learn Civil War history? Maybe they will picnic at the Los Angeles Museum of Modern Art to learn about the movements behind famous pieces? Remind students that these unconventional final exams are not only about capturing interest with their materials, but also about painting a full picture of the information that will be learned on the trip. It is, after all, their chance to show their complete knowledge of the course.
5. The Create-You-Own-App Exam
Have students create an app for learning the course material from the year. They should design the app for students who are unable to attend school for one reason or another. The app can take any form they like, so long as the various functions allow users to understand the critical components of the course. Have students begin in class brainstorming and storyboarding their apps. They’ll show which buttons lead to which screens, and what information and graphics will be found in each section. Let them decide how to present their final project to you and the class on exam day—with a Powerpoint, a display board, a booklet, or a video.
These unconventional final exams allow students to apply their critical thinking and imagination to what they have learned. Give them a chance to shine, and then showcase their brilliance on your last day at school together.