Strategies for Keeping Students Engaged at the End of the Year

The countdown has officially begun: we’re in the final stretch until summer! As anxious as everyone is for that final bell to ring on the last day of school, there are a lot of instructional days left in the school year. Keeping students on track can be challenging, so we’ve put together some ways to harness your students’ energy and make the most of the final weeks of the year:

Create opportunities for more independence

This is the perfect time to remove more scaffolding and allow your students to become more independent learners as they prepare for the next grade level.

As an English teacher, I would end my school year with literature circles. Students chose their own texts (short stories for younger grades and novels for older) and worked together in small groups to complete a variety of comprehension and analytical tasks. Giving students ownership over this project motivated them to stay engaged and finish the year strong. This strategy was even successful with my seniors who had terrible “senioritis”!

End the year with a culminating project

Think about all that you taught this school yearyou’ve covered a lot of material! Having students work on a culminating project is a great way for them to synthesize and apply all of that knowledge.

One of my favorite examples of this is from a 6th grade social studies class. After a year of studying ancient civilizations, students worked together in groups to create their own civilization and build it using art supplies and recycled materials. They had to decide important factors in regards to their infrastructure and be able to explain that to their classmates. This hands-on project was not only fun and engaging, but also required students to think deeply about what they had learned and make choices for their civilization.

Review key material to ensure for a successful transition

Spending some time reviewing essential concepts and skills will help students transition to the next grade level. Make this review fun by including games and activities. One idea is to pick a few IXL skills students have previously mastered, project Live Classroom onto your whiteboard, and have students race to a SmartScore of 100. This will not only keep students engaged, but also allow for you to assess their retention.  

Allow students to showcase their learning

End the year with an opportunity for students to showcase and reflect on their learning. Have students create a physical or digital portfolioit will give them a sense of pride in what they’ve accomplished over the year. I’m almost embarrassed to admit that I still have the portfolios I created at the end of each school year that demonstrated the work I was most proud of!

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