I let out a big sigh of relief every year when winter turns to spring. Warmer weather is making an appearance, spring break is upon us and there’s finally the light of summer at the end of the school year tunnel. But make no mistake – the final stretch is a grind, and those feelings of excitement are tempered with the reality that there’s still a lot to be done before that last bell rings.
Some days, it’s difficult to summon the energy or motivation to tackle the mountain that’s seemingly between us and summer vacation. To combat this, I’ve started thinking deeper about how to incorporate “fun” activities in class this time of year. Not only do students need to feel motivated and excited, but sometimes I’ve found that I even need some extra motivation to carry out my lesson plan.
"Kahoot!" games are fun to play as a class, especially when used as a review component. I also incorporate a lot of media in my lessons around this time of the year (videos, TED Talks, movies, etc.). Essentially, I look for engaging ways to supplement classwork.
I’ve also found it’s best to plan activities that get students moving around the classroom or, if possible, even outside the classroom. If you’re able to relocate to another spot in your school for a day, it provides a nice change of pace. Some schools have areas where an outdoor class on a nice day is reasonable and comfortable.
In terms of workload, I’ve ditched a lot of the “busy work” assignments that I used to do –worksheets, study guides, etc. – and replaced them with group work that allows students to converse and be more creative. I also plan more class debates and discussions. These activities keep students engaged while still working toward mastery of the standards. Not every class period needs to have a tangible assignment students complete in order to assess understanding. Not only does it produce less for you to grade, but it’s often the more unconventional lessons that stand out to students in the long run.
This time of the year is tough because summer is on the horizon, and summer means a chance to finally relax. School starts to be seen as something standing in the way of that vacation for both students and teachers. Bringing a little fun to the classroom before summer can help provide that little bit of fuel you need to get to the finish line.