Four Simple Strategies to Boost Student Engagement at the End of the Year
The end of the school year means that state testing is finished, and students are feeling antsy for their summer vacation. There’s no denying that teachers everywhere tend to feel burnt out as the year ends, especially as students begin to disconnect. Fortunately, there are many ways to improve student engagement and keep it high until the very end – and no, they don’t have to include searching through YouTube for another video to watch! Let’s dive in.
Boosting End-of-School-Year Student Engagement: 4 Easy Strategies
Keep student engagement high even as responsibilities and lesson plans dwindle with these simple strategies. No matter where you are in the year, you can’t go wrong with activities that push students to think creatively and show what they know.
1. Try Something New
Was there a lesson you didn’t have time to get to during the year? How about that cool activity you read about online but never planned for your classroom? Now is the time to try it!
Maybe there’s a certain subject your students are interested in or a viral video that ties back into class. Use this time as an opportunity to try a new activity or teaching style with your students as the guinea pigs—you may just find something that works well and that your students love!
2. Celebrate Accomplishments
You and your students have worked hard this year, so why not celebrate? You don’t need a large budget to reward your students for their hard work.
Motivate your students to finish the year strong with small incentives like candy, toys, or something larger like a class-wide pizza party or movie day. Providing some sort of incentive for your students will help them stay focused and give them something to look forward to.
Check out this list of four student rewards that encourage intrinsic motivation! (As a bonus, they don’t cost a thing!)
3. Reflect on the Year
Reflection is an important part of the end of the school year, and it’s also a great way to rev up student engagement. Go over what you and your students have learned throughout the entire year, and show them how much they have improved!
Build end-of-year portfolios with tests, projects, report cards, and more to show your students their growth and allow them to share their favorite lessons. This will provide some closure and help refresh students on the knowledge they have gained from the year.
Just because summer vacation is coming up doesn’t mean students must stop learning. Help your students set summer learning goals to keep their brains active and stave off the summer slide. Whether you use a reading list, a set of practice worksheets, or other resources, you will feel more confident that students won’t forget all the material they’ve learned throughout the year, knowing that they have a plan of action to stay sharp over the summer break.
4. Plan Ahead
Your students most likely have questions about what the next grade level will look like, so provide a time for a Q&A to help them prepare for the new school year.
For your younger students, see if you can schedule a “field trip” to the next grade level to check out the classrooms or look at what projects that grade worked on throughout the year. Have your students take some notes with observations about the room, or have them write about what they’re excited to learn in the next grade.
For older students, provide an overview of what topics they will cover next year or use class time to answer questions about college or life outside high school. At this time of year, there are many things that are completely unknown about the future, especially for seniors, and it can easily feel overwhelming. Provide some wisdom and words of encouragement to help calm some anxieties about the future. Share some of your stories and what you’ve learned over the years with your students—they’ll be excited to hear it!
Wrapping Up: The Value of Increasing Student Engagement
Even when there’s not much new content to learn, keeping student engagement high is important. For many students, school is one of few – if not the only – places that invite open discussion, promote social bonds, and create opportunities for self-discovery. Your students deserve an end-of-year effort that puts all their hard work to good use.
Thinking ahead to summer learning? Check out Edmentum's free Summer Planning & Success Toolkit! We've assembled our very best resources geared toward helping educators and students get the most out of any summer session.
This blog was originally published in May 2018 and has been updated.