Saturday, May 7, 2016

Tips for Engaging your Students Through the End of the Year

By Deann Marin of Socrates Lantern

The end of the school year is just around the corner. You’re looking forward to summer vacation and so are your students, but you still have at least 6 or more weeks left, so what do you do to keep those children tuned in to learning.  Here are some tips.

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Projects, Projects, Projects. Have your students work in groups to create plays that can be shared with other classrooms. It will keep them busy and having fun while learning.  If you’ve been studying the Greek civilization, they can write plays in the early Greek style. Parents can help with costumes, and masks. I have a bundle with all the information you’ll need to do this activity with your classes.

Have a debate, use what you’ve studied during the year in social studies. Did your classes learn about Hammurabi when they studied Mesopotamia? If so, there is so much information on his laws as they were the first during that time. They were quite harsh. Your children could debate whether or not the laws are fair. Then they can write a paper summarizing their feelings about it.  You might also pick a controversial subject that they can debate. The presidential election would be a great one to use. People have so many opinions about the candidates, I’m sure your students do as well. They would have to research the candidates. As a final project they can write a paper stating their opinions. Not an election year. Brainstorm with your class about topics that may be of interest to them. Then take a vote to decide which one to use. Here are a few ideas: students should be held legally responsible for bullying, sports stars are paid too much money,  students should be allowed to skip grades, violence in the media, or computer games causes violent behavior in kids. This link has more great ideas.

You could hold mock trials where students role play lawyers, prosecutors, witnesses for the defense, a judge and jury, etc. To go along with ancient history, “Who killed King Tut,” is an interesting topic to research and bring to trial. You should have your students break into groups, and locate information about who committed the crime. My 6th grade World History class really enjoyed this activity. The trial was well thought out.and quite impressive. This link will take you to a great webquest that you can use with your classes.

Do you enjoy teaching creative writing? One year I had my 6th graders bring in liquid bubbles. We went outside and sat around for a while and the kids had a great time making all shapes and sizes of bubbles. We had contests to see who could blow the largest one, weirdest one, etc. Then we went inside and made believe we were the bubble, or we were floating in the bubble. They used as many sensory words as they could to describe their bubble adventure. It was really a lot of fun. 

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Poetry is a great end of the year project. I usually take my classes outside to enjoy the fresh air and get their creative juices flowing. I tell them to look around and notice their surroundings, to take deep breaths so they become aware of fragrances, to touch a flower, or hug a tree, to listen to the sounds of birds, insects, and the rustling of leaves in the wind. When we go back into the classroom, they write poems that have to do with nature by using their five senses. They’ve written some amazing poems. I have an interactive poetry bundle that I use with this activity.

My teaching partner taught science and as part of their final grade, his students  would work in groups on one of the following topics: electricity, wind energy, solar energy, nuclear energy, thermal energy, etc. They were to write lessons geared to the class which included experiments, explanations, visuals, evaluation sheets, etc and act as teachers for an assigned period.

I’d love to hear what you do to keep your classes engaged through the last weeks of the school year.  Thanks for stopping by... 

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This is part of our May Teacher Talk. Please take a look at these other blog posts from some awesome educators

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