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Six Engaging End-of-Year Projects

| Rebecca Alber

I don't know about your students, but so many of mine, coupled with Senioritis, were DONE after state testing. (The well had run dry, no blood from a turnip -- all those sayings applied!) With just a few precious weeks left in the school year, what do you do to keep the kids energized and onboard with learning?

One thing I knew for sure when it came to my high schools students: They have to feel as if they aren't actually doing work. (Yep, you have to trick them!) And whatever you do plan, three elements are essential: choices, creativity, and constructing. In other words, as long as you present options then have them create something that includes using their imaginations, you really can't go wrong.

Consider these projects (and if rigor is on your mind, I've included the cognitive demands):

#1) Show What You Know Give students an opportunity to teach the rest of the class something, like origami, a new app, or a martial arts self-defense move (design, construct, apply).

#2) On-Campus Field Trips:

  • Take them outside to write observational notes on what they see through the eyes of a scientist, historical figure, artist, a character from a book or film (discover, examine, report)
  • Journey to the library for a Scavenger Hunt. There's many online that you can revise to fit your content and/or interests of your students (locate, investigate, compile)
  • Join another class and have a Poetry Slam, Science or Math Mini Fare. This gives students a chance to share a project or product with a different audience. Consider doing this in a neutral zone like the cafeteria or library (discover, demonstrate, evaluate)

#3) Own a ... Planet, Song, Decade, Career, Author, Country, Scientist, Medical Breakthrough With this activity, the student becomes an expert on whatever she/he chooses and then presents it to the class or in small groups. The product can be, for example, a mini-book, PowerPoint, or iMovie (select, prepare, research, design).

#4) Craft a New Ending Students take their favorite book, speech, short story, poem, or historical event and write a new ending. Ask them to also include rationale for their ending. They can also illustrate it (infer, devise, conclude, reflect).

#5) Create a Commercial Host a class competition where students cast a vote, and give an award to the team that produces the most clever, creative 30-second advertisement. Decide first as a class on the product to be pitched (plan, design, critique).

#6) Portfolio Showcase Students compile a collection of their best work from the school year or last semester, and include explanations for their choices. This could be done in hard copy or digitally, and can include illustrations and photos (select, assess, categorize, prepare).

Whatever you decide to do with the last handful of instructional days, stay flexible, open, and take the journey with your students. Testing is over. Have some fun.

What are successful end-of-the-year projects you've used in your classroom? Please share!

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Comments (11)

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Cofounder of thePortfolium- free platform to showcase your accomplishments

Showcase on thePortfolium!

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Great article! I especially like #6! thePortfolium.com is a great platform for students to create free portfolios where they can network with their classmates and find others with similar interests. www.thePortfolium.com

My PLC came up with an idea a

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My PLC came up with an idea a few years back that keeps the students engage after testing and can be useful for there entire life.
Disaster Preparedness.
Check out the final Product on Prezi.com

http://prezi.com/4yw9gewno8wq/disaster-preparedness/

There are several under the topic which our students have completed in the past. Usually completed in June or July.
We are just about to get started on presenting the info. through our Active inspire software on our Promethean Board.

7th Grade SS teacher from Atlanta, GA

This is a really great blog

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This is a really great blog topic. All of the ideas that you presented are excellent. Not only are they engaging, but they also appear to be rigorous. It is so important to keep students actively engaged in learning, especially at the end of the school year. Many students feel that school is simply a waste of time after they have taken the state test, primarily because we put so much of an emphasis on it. I think I will definitely try #5 creating a commercial.

High School Mathematics teacher

Senioritis

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Thank you for the great list of ideas. I teach math to juniors and seniors and often encounter students with Senior-itis. I can definitely incorporate the "On-Campus Field Trip" idea as well as the "Create a Commercial" idea. I have been developing an activity to transform a print ad from a magazine. I am thinking that the students will alter the existing ad by selling the product using math. For instance, I have an ad for Snickers candy bar. The ad shows a rectangle, that represents the Snickers bar and a jagged edged circle that represents a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup. Using symbols the sales pitch is: rectangle > circle. Very clever.

Playing Educational Games

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I agree with many of you that my kids are spent!!! We are daily playing a game that reinforces the skills they have learned all year. For example, "Spelling Up" played like "Heads Up 7 UP" but they have to spell words to stay up front. Or "Four Corners" where they are asked math questions about things we have learned all year, for example, what are two multiples of 8, or what is a prime number. They love competition!!! We are still learning but it is fun!

President, NJ Association for Middle Level Education

10 Simple Challenges for the Classroom, Camp, or Home

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These challenges are great for those last few days when high engagement is key. http://scan-werecriticaltothinking.blogspot.com/2012/05/10-simple-activi... Keep them challenged!

International Educator, Certified by the NBPTS | Educational Leader, Licens

Bringing it all together

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The end of the year is a great time to give students project that have them review knowledge and skills they practiced all year.

One of my favorite projects is the Million Dollar Project. Tell students they have a million dollars to spend. They need to account for the whole amount to the cent. They must list their resources (research and citation). They must categorize their purchases and report categories on a circle graph (converting fractions/decimals/percents + graphing). They can report their themes and their spending in any form they choose (speaking, technology).

It's amazing how many fifth graders begin by buying candy and such. They realize just how much a million dollars is...until they try to buy real estate in Hong Kong...

Janet | expateducator.com

National Board Certified 4th grade GATE teacher

Class brochure

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I have my 4th grade students write a brochure of what to expect in 4th grade. The brochures are then put out the first day ofnesite most of my class each fall is comprised of students coming from other schools, so the brochures are a way for them to learn about me, my classroom, the GATE program, and their new school.

I'm also going to try a new project this year courtesy of teacherspayteachers.com. they will create a Diary of a Fourth Grader Memory book.

national board certified hi school mathematics instructor from Mississippi

Real World Connections

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My textbooks (by Glencoe) has multiple real world problems in most lessons. Toward the end of the year, each student chooses a different problem to present to the class. They don't have to explain the math...just make the connection. For example, a student constructed a three foot tall roller coaster last year and told the class which lessons they had learned in Algebra 2 would be useful in the field of designing roller coasters. Another student built a one foot tall model ferris wheel to show what angles and measurements were being asked for in a trigonometry word problem. The students usually make A's, because I get really great work, the choices are virtually unlimited (several use an internet site for their visual aid if they cannot afford to build one) and the presentations are usually very enjoyable.

President, NJ Association for Middle Level Education

More Great Tech-infused EOY Activities

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Here are some more resources and ideas for engaging end of the year activities http://bit.ly/IKiTQU

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