Friday, May 17, 2013

10 Lesson Ideas for the Post State Test Doldrums

With our state and AP tests upon us, we’re faced with a new challenge: how do we keep students engaged in learning?

We often complain about the constraints associated with prescribed curricula; the end of the year liberates us—and our students—from these shackles. We’re finally free to teach as we want to teach! We can develop lessons that require collaboration, higher-order thinking, creativity and more (notice: I did leave 21st century skills off the list because I know many of us don’t have access to computers because they're used for testing).

Here’s a list of some great year-end activities I’ve seen in the last two years. What’s your favorite year-end activity? I’d love to add to the list, so please comment! 
  1. Create a book or video review. Each student/pair of students creates a chapter reviewing material from the year. These books could easily be used for next year’s review sessions. 
  2.  Make use of flip cameras and have students create skits, chapter/unit reviews, etc. Again these can be shared with next year’s students.
  3. Make use of Skype—host an expert, collaborate with another class from around the world, compete versus a class from a nearby high school.
  4. Teach a fun unit that you didn’t have time to teach.
  5. Debates and discussions.
  6. Have students write a letter to next year’s students.
  7. Cumulative assignments. As a history teacher, I tried to take a thematic approach to my teaching (some themes: role of geography, power, economic haves-have nots, etc.), so at the end of each year, students were assigned a theme and created a project highlighting examples of the theme from throughout the year.
  8. Give the students a FedEx Day. Essentially, a FedEx Day is where you allow the students to take an idea of their own and run with it. For more  
  9. Try a new teaching strategy or style. This is a great time to take risks and become innovative. For example, I always wanted to use Project-Based Learning part of my classroom instead of simply assigning projects. The end of the year was a great time for me to try it out.
  10. Begin preparing students for next year by pre-teaching a lesson from next year's curriculum. If possible swap classes with another teacher. For example, if you teach fifth grade science, have the sixth grade teacher teach your students.

What are your best end-of-year lessons?

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