4 Year End Activities That Really Worked In My Class

May 4, 2017
Lauren Martin
Lauren M.,  M.Ed

One would think that end of the year activities would be an easy sell to students right? After teaching 6th – 12th grade English and Art class for four years though, I can tell you differently. Does this scenario sound familiar?  You find an activity you’re really excited about and spend hours after school setting up your classroom for the next day. The next morning you anxiously wait for your students to arrive, excited with what you have planned for them. After everyone is settled in you introduce the activity and the only response is blank stares and a kid in the back row sneaking a peak at his cellphone. Today I want to help you avoid end of the year activity failures and tell you what has worked for me and my students. The below activities are my teacher-tested and student-approved no prep end of year classroom activities. I hope you find my suggestions useful.  ~ Lauren M.

Time Capsule

I chose to create a time capsule with my students because it was the only end of year activity that I remember from my entire elementary or secondary school career. While we want our students to remember us and our lessons, they most likely will forget all but one or two of our carefully planned activities. Help students remember by creating a time capsule. Avoid buying expensive supplies or relying on students to bring “artifacts” from home. Simply create a comic strip time capsule on Pixton Comic Maker. Have every student create a mind map to illustrate the fashions, fads, trends, songs, movies, celebrities, slang, quotable moments, apps, events, technological advancements and other notable memories and artifacts from the year. Have students keep their capsules secret until everyone is finished. Then have students compare and contrast what they remember from the academic year.

YOLO Summer Break Manifesto

After reflecting on the year, have students look ahead to “formally” pledge how they will make every moment count over summer break. In hopes of one last lesson on Latin roots, I explained to students that YOLO, the overused acronym meaning “you only live once” has almost the exact same meaning as a saying from 23 B.C. The Roman poet, Horace, coined, “carpe diem,” meaning “sieze the day.” Have students map out what they will do, explore, create and learn every weekday and weekend of summer break to embrace the YOLO and carpe diem lifestyle. Instead of a traditional pen and paper assignment that will, in my experience, leave the students disengaged and the teacher disappointed, instruct students to illustrate their summertime adventures and commitments on a comic strip or timeline on Pixton Comic Maker.

Six Word Memoir

Every year, my students’ favorite activity was the six word memoir. In this creative art and writing activity, students describe themselves or a significant moment in their life using just six words. Instead of planning a mini lesson and guided practice, simply show students the six word memoir video. In my experience students overwhelmingly inspired by the video and immediately dive into writing and illustrating their own six word memoir(s). While this is a perfect activity to fill one class period, you can easily make it a week-long project if students create five or more memoirs to illustrate the most significant memories or periods of their life. My students were so enthusiastic about the opportunity to freely express themselves that they voluntarily wrote and illustrated multiple memoirs at home and asked to present them to their peers in class. If you do not have art supplies, or your students are frustrated by their artistic abilities, encourage students to illustrate their six word memoirs on Pixton Comic Maker.

Classroom Glows and Grows

The end of the school year is not only time for students to reflect. Take the last day of school to have students share honest feedback to help you improve as a teacher. I always asked students to share their favorite and least favorite classroom activities, norms, teaching styles and more as “Glows and Grows”. I never ceased to be surprised by what they wrote. Every year, students chose favorite assignments that I otherwise would have forgotten to reuse the following year. They also wrote extremely specific teaching moments and praise that they appreciated. Their feedback made me aware of the little ways I could positively and negatively influence students. Regardless of your student’s age, I encourage you to ask for and use student feedback to assess and improve your teaching style at the end of the school year.

If you need activities to combat the end of year student slump or if you struggle with classroom management, ensure maximum engagement by simply incorporating Pixton Comic Maker into any of these end of year activities. Using technology in the classroom is a guaranteed way to keep students engaged and motivated. Don’t stress about planning end of year activities, simply use the four activities above and enjoy stress-free student engagement through the last day of school.

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