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Maximizing the Last Days of School: Strategies for Success

It’s the last days of the school year—a time when students and teachers (and even administrators) tend to shift into autopilot.

And who can blame them? After eight months of hard work and dozens of tests, it’s easy to daydream about warmer weather and family vacations.

But by not engaging students at the end of the school year, teachers, parents, and administrators miss a valuable opportunity to drive home lessons that will last through the summer.

In a recent article on Edutopia, veteran classroom teacher and Twitter education celebrity Vicki Davis writes, “The end of the school year should be a time of review, reflection, and celebration.” Teachers and administrators alike should ensure students understand lessons learned during the year and seek feedback about how to improve lessons in the future, she says. But don’t make it too formal, she adds. There is a way to do this so that it is fun and engaging.

Here are just a few of Davis’s suggestions for engaging students and seeking feedback at the end of the school year:

Survey your class
It might not be the most creative way to gather feedback from students, but conducting a student survey will give you some compelling insights.

Ask students about their favorite lessons, how you can improve your teaching, and what they took away from the year.

Make it fun and engaging by sharing feedback back out to the class. Have an open conversation with students. The exercise will serve as a recap to what they learned and provide great ideas about how to improve come fall.

Make a top-10 list
David Letterman retired and most of your students probably don’t know who he is. But, everyone’s a fan of a top-10 list!

Have your students make a list of the top 10 things they learned during the school year, or about their favorite projects. And then have them share their lists with classmates.

This is a quick, fun, and easy way to get valuable feedback while also engaging students.

Collaborate on clean up
Make your classroom clean-up days a team activity.

Taking class decorations and other items down too early signals to your class that the year is over, says Davis. Keeping students engaged means staying engaged yourself and your classroom needs to reflect that commitment.

When it is time to pack up classrooms, why not turn that activity into a fun recap? This represents a great chance to reflect on the year by having students look back through old work and lessons. You’ll learn what they retained, and get ideas about what points you need to revisit or stress next year.

Hold a class awards ceremony
Remember how fun senior superlatives were in high school?

Davis and other creative teachers have taken that idea and applied it to the their classrooms. Have your students vote on the best books, student projects, or favorite memories. Then, organize an awards show to showcase the best moments.

Davis recommends upping the ante by having students dress up, rolling out a red carpet, and creating physical awards that can be handed out throughout the day.

Bringing students together to share their favorite memories is a great way to solidify lessons and making it a celebratory event is a great way to cap off the year with some fun.

For Davis’s full list of ideas for engaging students at the end of the year, check out her post on Edutopia.

Do you have special tips or tricks for engaging students at the end of the school year? Tell us in the comments.

Is your school or district looking for ways to engage students and give them a louder voice in how and what they learn? You don’t have to wait until the end of the year to seek their feedback.