“Are we doing work today?”
I hear this (plus lots of whining, teeth-sucking and under-the-breath muttering once I tell them “YES, YOU ARE DOING WORK TODAY, YOU’RE STILL IN SCHOOL!”) as I give them my best “you-know-better” teacher glare.
There’s one week of school left and the kids (and teachers) have checked out. However, while the kids are visibly, emotionally and mentally on summer vacation, it’s up to the teachers to keep their sh*t together and “entertain” students with lessons that will engage and enlighten.
Because let’s face it – grades are already finished and while Netflix sounds like a great idea in theory, my tolerance for watching “High School Musical” and the like has reached its limit.
So how do you keep students busy, entertained and invested in their work?
1.) Assign work. Not busy work, but work, work. I assigned a short story the last 2 weeks of school and students really got into it. They read it out loud in class (which was a public speaking grade) and they enjoyed the process. (Yes, I graded their stories, but you don’t have to!)
2.) Have students write a letter to themselves. Have them talk about the year and how they’ve changed, what’s popular, etc. Collect the letters and have them address envelopes to themselves. Send them their letters the year they graduate high school. (Or if they are seniors, give them their letters at graduation)
3.) Reflect on portfolios. I keep all my students’ writing throughout the year, so it’s fun for them to rummage through their work and reflect on how much they have learned.
4.) Tell them everything is a grade. Participation is a grade. Breathing is a grade. Everything is graded until the last hour of school. Keep a firm facial expression and pretend to take notes of kids who are misbehaving, then enter their “grades” into your grade book. Behavior will drastically improve.
How do you keep students invested at the end of the year? Let me know in the comments!