It's that time of year...state testing is finished, but you still have 3 more weeks of school. That also means you have 3 more daily grades and 1 more major grade to get in the grade book. (And not everything can be a participation grade) I've put together some ideas for engaging activities to do with your students that don't require a ton of prep work, and can also be taken for meaningful grades. Let's fill these last few weeks with some fun for both you and your students!
Thank You Notes
Have students write thank you letters to custodial, cafeteria, and auxiliary staff at your school. You can teach the proper format for formal letters, and even have them address the envelope. (Some students have never done this before!) This activity can reinforce proper writing skills and techniques, while really making someones day brighter!
How do I grade that?
You can grade on grammar, length, etc, just as you would a normal writing assignment. If you don't teach writing, have students write a letter to a government official over concerns they have with a topic closely related to your content, or have students write a letter to an underclassmen about what they will learn next year. Letters can be given out at the beginning of the new school year. Let your imagination run wild!
Create a Class Magazine
The first step will be to pick a topic. Do you want students to create a magazine over topics they've learned this year? (think instant review sheets for next year's students!) Would you rather them do a quick research project over an invasive species, a famous mathematician, or an historical figure? You might also want to learn more about your students and have them create a magazine that reflects the class as a whole. Once you've picked your topic, have students work individually or in pairs. Based on guidelines you choose, students create their page in Publisher, Word, or Google Draw. Have students save their page as a pdf. You can then upload pages into an online platform (after setting up an account) to create a beautiful online magazine.
Need help with the creation of the magazine? That's what I'm here for! I can help you with the ins-and-outs of creating a magazine. Click the button below to read more about creating classroom magazines.
School Surveys and Data
Have students conduct peer research over topics of their (or your) choosing. They should write "interview" questions, decide how they will collect data, how much data they will need, etc. Students will then conduct their research and gather data. Once all the data is gathered, have students represent the data using the proper graph. Students can also draw conclusions, make predictions, etc.
Make a Review Board Game
With this option, grouped students create a board game on poster board that will be used to review for semester exams. Groups can choose their own theme, design, and rules for the game keeping in mind that each player will have to be able to answer questions. Students can create a list of questions they think would be helpful for reviewing content for the semester. With student questions and teacher questions combined, you can create a set of question cards for each group to use. (All games will have the same questions, however, the rules and look of each game will reflect the group's decisions) Once all game boards are created, have them laminated, then have groups trade and play each other's games. You can have students create or bring their own playing pieces.
How do I grade this?
There are several options for several different grades. You can grade based on the game idea, set-up, design, execution, etc. You can have each student turn in 10 questions to get a good question bank. Also, I was told a long time ago, that when students are playing a game, EVERYONE must be involved. One of the ways I did this when using board games was to have all players record the question and their answer (no matter whose turn it may be). They then record whether they got the question right or wrong. If they got the question wrong, once the game is over, they would go back and explain why they got a question wrong and/or something that will help them remember the correct answer. Not only is this a way to make sure everyone is going through all of the questions/material, it is also an instant review sheet for students to take and study!
Adobe Spark Tutorial Videos
Adobe Spark is quickly becoming one of my favorite tools to use with students. Spark has three creation options: Post, Page, or Video. A post is simply 1 picture + text. These are great for main idea practice, vocabulary, or quick reminders. Pages (like what you're scrolling through now) are great for combining a lot of info in one place. Pages are super easy to make and are a great alternative to PowerPoint presentations or any research paper for that matter. Spark video creates a beautiful video from your text, pictures, videos, and speech. Students can create a tutorial video over a topic that they struggled with during the semester (or maybe one they were really good at). They can add pictures, diagrams, important terms to remember, etc. They can also voice over their slides if they want to explain a concept. Students also have the ability to add videos to a slide, which would be great if they want to show how to work a math problem, or something similar. Once all the slides are created, they can choose a theme and background music, and voila! Spark will create a well-put-together video. You can then take all the videos, create a YouTube channel and now you have an instant library of tutorial videos for the upcoming semester exam and for future classes!
How will I teach my students how to use a new program?
That's the beauty of Spark. Once students create their accounts (using their district email) creation is really straight-forward. There are not a lot of options to choose from as far as design goes, so students don't get lost in font, colors, etc. More time can be spent adding content. I can also provide cheatsheets for your students or a quick video tutorial.
Want to use one of these ideas, or have another one you would like to try or share? Send me an email if you need any help, want to share pictures of what you did, or just want a place to get started. I can't wait to see all the awesome things you all will be doing during these last few weeks of school! :)