With five weeks of school left, students tend to lose interest and become disengaged. They are excited for summer, and with the warm weather, they just want to be outside enjoying themselves. It is even more difficult to keep the students engaged when they are graduating seniors and have already been accepted into college. Yet, I’ve found a few strategies to keep my seniors motivated in the midst of prom, graduation, and college orientations.
At the start of the second semester, I explained to my students that we are a team. We have a curriculum to get through, but we will work together and make team decisions. I wanted my students to take ownership of their learning in their final semester of school, and I would constantly seek their suggestions and feedback. I asked how they would like to be assessed and even allowed them to create their own project ideas. If I had an assessment in mind of which the students did not approve, we looked at it together and revised it to their liking. After all, school should be fun, not torturous, so I allowed my students to be in control and make decisions throughout our curriculum.
Below are some strategies that have worked well (almost all of these were suggested by students):
- Hold Socratic Seminars and allow students to decide on the topics to be discussed
- Hold class debates (allow students to choose the side they would like to debate)
- Show films that are relevant to the class curriculum (I sent a Google Form and had students submit their suggestions)
- Allow for artistic assignments –> set aside a day for students to illustrate their understanding of the readings or have students draw symbols from the novel and explain their significance.
- Give authentic projects (e.g. have students create care packages for soldiers in Iraq at the end of the war/lit unit)
- Do more project-based assessments –> have students focus on their own hobbies and interests and create their own assignment
- Invite speakers into the classroom –> if you teach seniors, perhaps invite former students to share their college experiences and answer your students’ questions
- Have students write letters to next year’s students –> this empowers the students and makes them feel like experts, as they give advice to the upcoming class.