Your students are tired. You’ve finished standardized testing and have met most of your curriculum expectations for the year. You’re about to cross the finish line, and everyone in your class is ready to throw in the towel. This is why I always have a few engaging end of the year activities up my sleeve! Ending the year on a positive note will not only make your life easier – it will also offer a truly memorable experience for your students. This blog post will show you a few of my favorite year-end activities for English Language Arts, including end of the year reflection prompts, assessments, and celebration ideas.
What are some fun assignments for the end of the year?
If you want to end your year on a fun note but still want to engage students with your curriculum standards, you can assign them a book trailer project. This project is great for English Language Arts students because it will have them revisit novels and short stories that they have studied during their school year. It is also a highly engaging assignment because it uses video as the medium for communication; video is a medium that our students’ generation knows and loves.
This book trailer project includes assignment instructions, a student example, and a book trailer rubric to outline expectations to your students. Additionally, it includes a reflective writing assignment that prompts students to provide an independent literary analysis. This individual writing assignment will assess students’ understanding of characterization, conflict, and students’ formal reviews of the novel.
To learn more about how to assign book trailers and why they serve as a great alternative assessment, check out this blog post.
End of the year reflection questions and writing prompts
End of the year reflection is an important aspect of student learning. Here are a few end of the year writing prompts you can use to facilitate reflection in your classroom:
“If you had to prepare students to take this course next year, what would you encourage them to do? How would you prepare them, and on which areas of the curriculum would you encourage them to focus?”
“Did you have any expectations when you began this course? What were they? Did this course meet your expectations?”
“What was the most challenging aspect of this course? How did you approach this challenge? If you had the opportunity to face this challenge again, would you try a different approach?”
“Which skill from this course do you think you will find the most useful in your future learning? Which skill is most useful for life beyond school?”
“Your principal has told you that you have been selected for an award for the end of the year celebration. For what reason do you believe you are being rewarded? What skill or area in your academics do you think your principal is acknowledging?”
An end of the year memory book is a great way to incorporate a number of school-related reflection prompts. This end of the year memory book also includes writing prompts that encourage mindful reflection and social-emotional learning. It includes several writing prompts to consider challenges that students have overcome or aspects of the year in which they’d like to let go. Additionally, it supports your English Language Arts curriculum by prompting students to reflect on the novels and short stories that they read in class.
End of the year activities for middle school and junior high students
At the time of writing this blog post, we are three school years into a pandemic. Everyone has experienced this pandemic differently; with time, some of us have grown accustomed to it while others have grown weary.
It is still quite appropriate to assume that some of our students may still be processing grief related to the pandemic. This presents an opportunity to guide students through a few supportive end of the year activities, including social-emotional writing prompts related to grief and loss.
Another great end of the year writing prompt involves future writing. Future writing encourages students to imagine their lives in the future and write to an audience set during a particular time frame. Time frames can range from a year, to five years, to after high school – the options are limitless! For some added fun, you can collect these pieces and give them back to students at the end of the year.
For a cross-curricular activity, you can have students plan a vacation or day-trip for their summer. This activity can involve them exploring local or regional attractions and writing informational paragraphs about their location. To incorporate other forms of writing, students can also practice writing to different audiences about their location. For example, they could write an argumentative “pitch” to a parent or friend about why they should travel to this attraction. Cross-curricular applications can include budgeting, designing infographics, or exploring the history of their location.
End of the year activities for high school seniors
The end of the year is a particularly important time for high school seniors. One way to honor this is to facilitate memorable collaborative activities. One of my favorite end of the year activities for high school involves making a senior playlist. High school students love music; for many, it is attached to the unique identity they have developed over their adolescence. Students can select one song to add to the class playlist and write about why they chose each song.
This end of the year activity even serves as a cheap and easy end of the year student gift! You can provide a link to a copy of each playlist for students to enjoy over their summer.
Another fun writing activity for high school seniors involves end of the year postcards. Students can write a postcard to a friend, staff member, or even to their future self. For some added fun, you can send these postcards at a future date. This is a great way to promote the novelty of keeping in touch with a penpal, or the metacognitive learning that comes with future self writing.
If you want a hands-on end of the year activity, you can place your high school seniors in charge of planning an end of the year celebration. On a larger scale, this can be planned for the entire school as a spirit-building initiative. My students have planned end of the year celebrations that involve performances, community outreach, and fundraising carnivals. To tie this to your curriculum, students can be in charge of writing proposal letters to local businesses or organizations.
Ending the Year on a Positive Note
The last few weeks of school can certainly be a tough time to teach. Thankfully, there are so many end of the year activities to help us cross the finish line. I hope these end of the year ideas have helped you develop some memorable and fun activities for your students. If you plan one of these end of the year reflections, activities, or celebrations, make sure to tag me on Instagram! I love seeing these ideas in action.