Simple Strategies to Keep Students Engaged 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 are feeling burnt out as the year ends, but there are many ways to keep your students focused and engaged until the very end that don’t include searching through YouTube for another video to watch.
Try Something New
Was there a lesson that 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!
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!)
Reflect on the Year
Reflection is an important part of the end of the school year. 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 lesson. 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 that 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 be forgetting all the material they’ve learned throughout the year, knowing that they have a plan of action to stay sharp over the summer break.
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 through 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 be covering next year, or use class time to answer questions about college or life outside of high school. At this time of year, there are a lot of things that are completely unknown about the future, especially for seniors, and it can feel overwhelming and scary for them. Provide some wisdom and words of encouragement to help calm some anxieties about what the future may look like. Share some of your own stories and what you’ve learned over the years with your students—they’ll be excited to hear it!
Thinking ahead to summer learning? Check out Edmentum's Free Summer Planning & Success Toolkit. We've assembled our very best resources geared towards helping educators and students get the most out of summer session.
This blog was originally published May 2018 and has been updated.