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Steve Haberlin's picture
Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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Final Days

Weve all been there before. Its just weeks or days before summer vacation. The students have mentally checked out~ and maybe you have as well. The class has completed standardized testing~ grades are in~ and maybe as in my case~ students already have graduated and received their diploma.

So what do you do with the days left in the school year? How do you use them productively and remain motivated in the process? This has been a burning question in my mind for the last several years.

After watching other teachers and experimenting myself~ I have developed some methods that could work for you. In fact~ my gifted 5th graders today begged me to skip recess so they could continue working on a project that I saved until the final days of school (more about that later).

So what can you do to make the most of the last days? Heres some suggestions:

  • Utilize the great outdoors.

Since students are itching to get out of school~ take them outside. Field days are great fun~ but how about tying academics to an outdoor event? For instance~ when teaching distance~ rate and speed~ I had students run sprints outside. The class tracked student times then calculated distance.

  • Focus on the subjects/topics that normally take a backseat.

Lets be honest. Teachers typically focus on subjects that will be tested during standardized testing. Now is the time to engage students in that World War II project you love to do or study poetry~ etc.

  • Teach a lesson that students will remember and use throughout their lives.
  • How about a community service project with the local animal shelter? Perhaps raise money for cancer research. You could teach students to balance a checkbook ~ write a resume or research college financial aid.

And finally~ my favoriteexperiment!

Now is a great time to try a lesson that you can use for next school year. Teach something out of the box. It doesnt matter if you fall flat on your face. You can work the bugs out of a project during the next few weeks and hit the ground running next school year. For example~ inspired by teacher John Hunters World Peace Game~ I began testing out a social studies game that requires students to break into teams and form their own countries. I then present problems that they have studied in class such as genocide~ nuclear war~ etc.~ and the teams must come up with solutions. So far~ theyve love the game~ and Ive already been learning some ways to tweak the project for next school year.

Join me at Ed Worlds innovative teaching group at http://community.educationworld.comcontent/final-days?gid=NTEyMQ==and together we can brainstorm more ways to make the final days of school productive and meaningful.