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Avoiding the End-of-Semester Slump

Whenever holiday or summer break approaches, you can feel it in the air. Both you and your students can’t wait; many are already mentally on vacation. In light of the end-of-semester slump, keep the following in mind to make productive use of everyone’s time.

 

1) Reflect on the Semester and Year

Whether the first semester has just ended or it’s almost summer, now is a great time to have students reflect on what they’ve learned so far. Often, students go through classes without realizing that they’ve actually gained skills and knowledge that they can take with them. Have a class discussion about what students have found new, insightful, and helpful, as well as what didn’t work as well for some students. Vocalizing these thoughts, instead of simply having students write them down, can help students jog each others’ memories. This will allow them to cement in their minds what they’ve accomplished in the semester. You may also ask them to complete informal or formal evaluations – these are resources that can be extremely valuable when you teach the class again in the future.

 

2) Work in Groups

    Regardless of students’ future jobs or occupations, collaboration and teamwork are important skills for all to practice. While you may have assigned group work throughout the semester, don’t forget about the end of the semester. Students may have lost mental energy and steam, so working in groups can be very effective. Ideally, students can help each other pick up slack and encourage one another, complimenting others’ strengths and weaknesses. You decide how much direction you’d like to give them and what kind of an end project you’d like for them to create, such as a presentation, report or multi-media experience.

     

    3) Create Student-Centered Learning Opportunities

    Related to group work are other student-centered learning opportunities. Now at the end of the semester, students will have already picked up skills and concepts that they can now apply. Assign open-ended projects that will have students explore a topic that’s personally interesting to them – or, have them lead discussion or teach class for the day. This will allow students to build on what they’ve already learned throughout the semester, in addition to exercising their leadership and initiative-taking skills.

     

    4) Make Connections to Current Events

    The end of the semester is also an excellent time for students to make connections to current events. This can be as broad or narrow of a scope as you’d like: international, national, statewide, your town/city and even your community and school. Bring in news articles or watch news segments together. Observe what’s going on and how your students might be able to integrate this semester’s knowledge into ‘real world’ experiences. When urged to look at the bigger picture, students can become more well-rounded, active and thoughtful members of the community.

     

    5) Take a Field Trip

    Going out into your community as a class or school is a great way to make textbook knowledge real and tangible, especially at the end of a semester. A change of scenery is often what a class needs to be pulled out of a slump: consider destinations like museums, parks, significant buildings in your town/city and tourist attractions. Consider seeing a movie that’s relevant to your course of study. If you’d like, you can even center a mini-unit around the field trip, creating pre- and post-field trip activities that will allow your students to get even more out of the trip.

     

    As the end of the semester draws near, keep an eye out for students mentally drifting away and implement learning activities that are more hands-on and reflective. Often, they have great ideas themselves: as a class, brainstorm ways in which they can apply what they’ve been learning all semester long.

     

    Article by Lisa Low, a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a platform for private academic tutoring and test prep designed to help students at all education levels achieve academic excellence. 

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