State testing season is over (or almost over)! Now what?!
State testing exhausts students and can leave them unmotivated to learn new content during the final weeks of the year. Instead of resorting to movies, try some of these activities to keep your students engaged and learning right up until that final bell.
Organizing a career fair will keep students excited and engaged at school, and will also offer them practical knowledge in a low-stress environment. There are several ways you could go about it. For more student involvement, let your students contact companies of their choosing and present information on the company to the class. You could also host a more traditional career fair and invite company representatives to school so students could practice networking. To extend this activity, have a career-fair-themed week, including resume workshops and networking tips. Depending on the age of your students, you could also include presentations on LinkedIn and crafting a professional digital presence. Even though it might seem premature, it is never too early to start teaching your students important life skills and help them start thinking about internships and future jobs.
Bring in different guest speakers to keep lessons interesting without making students undergo more graded assignments right after state testing. Choose speakers from a variety of jobs and backgrounds and try to find people who might be a little “out of the box.” For example, ask a woman in STEM to come and talk about what it’s like being a woman in a stereotypically male-dominated field. You could also look outside STEM and ask the school counselor to do a workshop on managing stress and making healthy lifestyle choices.
Genius Hour is an innovative perspective on channeling creativity and passion in the classroom. Pioneered in the Google offices, Genius Hour is a designated hour where students can work on anything they want. While some guidance is needed, like presenting an initial question or problem to solve, the time is student-driven. This would be a perfect activity to do after state testing since it encourages creativity and freedom, two things testing often does not foster.
Show and Tell Day
Show and Tell doesn’t just have to be for preschoolers. Similar to the idea of Genius Hour, let your students take the lead and share their passions and interests. Ask students a specific question to help guide the time. For example, you could ask students to bring something or share an experience that highlights a favorite fact about themselves. Or have students present on what their dream life would be. To make it more relevant to school, you could ask students to pick their favorite topic from an earlier lesson that year and expand on why they liked it or find more information on it. Letting students have more control over class time will keep them more engaged after state testing and make the environment more fun.
Digital Career Exploration
If organizing a career fair or finding guest speakers feels daunting, you can do some guided online career exploration with your students. Have them take the free STEM Type Quiz at STEMjobs.com to explore the things they currently like to do and connect those interests to careers they might love. The quiz takes about 10 minutes to complete and collects no student data to protect your students’ privacy. Once they get their STEM Type scores, students can explore the careers connected to their STEM Type and take a look at schools that can train them for those careers. Best of all, discovering some amazing STEM careers will help students see the value of the STEM classes they’re taking now by showing them how they will use the skills and concepts you’re teaching in their real lives.
If you’re still in the middle of testing season, check out our guide titled “How to Survive Monitoring State Testing.”