Sail your way into summer with these ideas that will keep your students engaged and excited during the final weeks of school!
The temperatures are on the rise, student attention span is taking a turn for the worst, and state testing and end-of-course exams are complete. Welcome to the final weeks of school! Take a deep breath, because while the beach may be calling your name, summer is not quite here yet. A lot of the stress that comes with the final weeks of school can be alleviated by incorporating constructive and engaging activities in your classroom. This is a great time to explore topics your students want to know more about, projects you did not have time for, or even a preview of content students will see the next school year. As tempting as it may be, showing your class a movie is not the way to go. Check out these ideas for your classroom in these final weeks of school.
1. Create a Makerspace
Get your students’ creative juices flowing by turning your classroom into a Makerspace. With just a few common materials you probably have on hand, you can create the perfect workspace for your students to design, invent, and build. Provide a prompt that will inspire your students, or lead the class in an agreed upon creative endeavor they would all like to pursue. However you go about it, a Makerspace will not only keep your students engaged in the final weeks of school, but also develop key engineering practices and 21st century skills.
2. Program a Robot
If your school has a robotics program, collaborate with the teacher to bring this experience into your classroom. Vex or Lego robotics kits provide opportunities for students to create and program robots that can perform specific tasks. You can design a challenge for students, such as an obstacle course, that you students need to achieve in the final weeks of school. You may even inspire students to join the robotics team next year!
3. Reflect on the Year with a Student Portfolio
As you wrap up your final unit, consider having students reflect on the semester or the entire year with a portfolio. This will allow students to end the year with a look back on all that they have accomplished. Have students select items to add to their portfolio that illustrate their growth in knowledge and understanding. This may include lab activities, assessments, or PBLs. Finally, have students write a reflective piece on why they selected each item and any revisions they would make to the pieces they included. This will bring meaningful closure to the year in your final weeks of school.
4. Discover Your STEM Type
Do you only have a free day or two? Have some fun with your students and take the STEM Type Quiz. Students will rate a variety of statements based on their level of interest. The results will tell each student their STEM Type, which may be advisor, designer, explorer, integrator, investigator, maker, producer, or solver. This can be used to help them consider future career paths, as well as elective courses they would like to take next year. It’s completely free to use and typically takes about 10 minutes to complete.
5. Explore Future Careers
Take the STEM Type Quiz one step further by having students explore careers related to their STEM Type, or STEM fields that are of interest. Each STEM Type description comes equipped with Hot Jobs, salaries, and featured career information. Our website is also home to a multitude of articles on all sorts of STEM careers that may catch their eye. Have students select one to three careers that intrigue them, and ask them to create a presentation to share with the class.
6. Leave Your Classroom
One of my favorite ways to fill the final weeks of school is to get out of the classroom. The weather this time of year just begs for us to get outdoors. If your school has an outdoor classroom, consider holding your next lesson in this venue. You could also go on a walk to explore a variety of topics that align to your curriculum. This may include an investigation of invasive species, water drainage, energy efficiency, scale drawing, population surveys, and motion. In our eighth grade, this comes in the form of a rocket day, where students design and launch their own rockets made from soda bottles.
The End is in Sight!
However you decide to fill your final weeks of school, be sure that they are productive and engaging. This will keep your students on task and less likely to get themselves into trouble. Inspire them to keep pursing their STEM passions all summer long, bringing that excitement into the new school year. Click here for even more ways to avoid popping in a movie to get you to the final bell.
Alexandra D. Owens
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