Keeping Students Engaged at the End of the School Year - ideas from teachers

Now that we're in the final descent to summer, how do we keep students engaged while also keeping our sanity? I asked this question over on Facebook and got some great answers from teachers! The're listed below, along with any resources the teachers mentioned working well. Projects were mentioned a lot along with topics that may not be captured in the standards but are engaging, fun and worth learning. What things do you do at the end of the year? What would you add to this list?

“I have been using Kahoot! and more recently Quizizz. These games can be used for teaching new things or as a review/assessment. It changes it up - you can use four laptops as a station, or have whole class instruction, once or twice a week. It gives students something to look forward to. Quizizz sends a report each time to your email and you can send it to parents. I just got an email on how my classes fared against another school in the district on an activity. I thought that was cool. Students competing against each other with incentives keeps them focused. It’s not always perfect, but my stress level has gone down.”  --Teacher Tim LeMere

“I like to experiment with different types of activities and lessons that I'm wanting to do next year. After our testing is over I have guinea pigs hahaNASA has some great activities to play withThese PDFs are a goldmine of lessons developed by hundreds of educators and NASA scientists. You can modify them to fit your needs very easily.”  --Teacher Rob Cantor

“I test activities with my students to see if I want to use them for next year. This helps as the activities are fun and help them go over topics.”  --Teacher Megan Angell

“I teach 8th grade math so we are going to be leaning about checking/saving accounts and the cost of living using iPads to go grocery shopping. We just finished a project on building a tiny house and they LOVED it! When I had them look up the cost of furniture they were surprised! Ding! Time to teach about money and budgeting.”  --Teacher Kesha Kiser

 My 5th graders are doing a "wax museum" of historic figures... they will research, write, have a short speech and dress up to act as their chosen figure.”  --Teacher Crystal Pearl Casey

The last couple weeks are for a large group project. It's big, involved, and up to the students to design and build. Since it's all student choice they tend to be pretty motivatedWe do something called a paradigm lab where the students experiment with topics before we teach them, building context for the explanations. For the final project the students design their own paradigm lab, choosing a topic of their own and conducting an experiment of their own design to see how it works. They then write up a report and present their findings to the class.”  --Teacher Matthew Madrid

I institute "free form" Fridays. Every Friday we revisit a topic from earlier in the school year by completing some sort of activity. I teach high school math- Algebra, Geometry and College Prep Math- so there are always things to do. This Friday in Algebra, we did a simplifying radicals card sort as they need it for Geometry. And in CPM, we wrote syllogism stories after we watched Carol Kane's version of "If you give a mouse a cookie." In Geometry, we designed our own Mandalas. The kids work hard all week to earn their Fridays- high moral, high attendance and lots of math speak!”  --Teacher Jay Lynn

I created projects that keep them fully engaged and interested. One is a culmination of everything they learned in writing all year [Writers Workshop Create a Magazine] and it is one that a lot of them end up saying is their favorite!”  --Teacher Julia from Teacher Julia’s Resources

“We are learning skills they need to start day 1 in Algebra and I've told them I'll teach them how to use probability & statistics in gambling...namely I'm going to teach them the difference between Probability when an event can repeat and when it can't. So....we'll be counting cards in bent Black Jack vs. Texas Hold em.”  --Teacher John Young, Jr.

“Maintain the structure...keep teaching!! Find activities that are hands on and use cooperative groups (like build a city from TpT).”  --Teacher Penny Greenler

“I have to remediate my 8th graders who need to retake our state testing:( so we're using TenMarks! I assigned some standards and they got to work on them in class. Mine are so much less reluctant to work when I let them listen to music, too :)”  --Teacher Stephanie Canter

“Projects with choice!”  --Teacher Julie Danheiser Valenzuela

More projects!”  --Teacher Pam Ferreira Smith

One of my favorite things to do at the end of the year is ask students what they learned, what they wish they had learned more about, and what advice they'd give to next year's students. 

One year, after what I had felt was an especially torturous unit on tax forms, most of my Consumer Math students answered that they wished they learned more about taxes! Every year since, I have spent extra time on the topic. This "My Advice to Next Year's Students" pennant is a fun activity for any age group to offer their best advice to next year's students. They become perfect classroom d├ęcor for the first day of school.

Below are some additional ideas from teachers for keeping the last months of school engaging!

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