Welcome to the end of the year! That glorious time where getting to the end of each day feels like you just crossed the finish line of a marathon. Each day you wonder how you’ll get through the next. Where suddenly all those Leonardo DiCaprio memes feel more true every day. But there are ways to survive and even enjoy the last few days or weeks!
1. Stay in the target language. This may be the opposite of what you feel like doing, or what seems like would work. We all know that by now students are basically already out the door. Bring them back in! Make it comprehensible, relevant and meaningful. Have visuals and manipulatives and incorporate technology by using videos or music. It will make the last few weeks seem important and like they are still learning, even as the year winds down.
2. Make it about them. Building off of making class relevant and meaningful, personalize, personalize and personalize. Kids are fried and are only thinking about the video-gaming, sleeping in and playing they are about to do for the summer. Grab their attention and interest by making the material about them. Start with them and their interests, then bring it around to the topic(s) in class. How does it relate to them? Why should they care?
3. Recycle back in topics from throughout the year. Bring it all back together. Create prompts that combine topics in new ways, with a fresh way to talk about it. Students will feel successful and it is a great way for them to see language and its use in new ways!
4. Play and have fun!! (in the target language of course 😉 The time will go by much quicker for you and them. They will still be learning without even realizing it and will leave each day laughing and smiling, which is so important with all the stress of what the end of the year is for them and you. It is also a great way to stay in the target language and negotiate meaning.
5. Get kids moving! Incorporating movement, target language, play and relevancy will ensure that students are with you all the way to the end. Make sure students are interacting with each other and the language each day. Do something kinesthetic that gets their bodies and minds involved. If the body is engaged, the mind is engaged.
6. Put it on them. We all know that those who teach, learn! Have students lead the class whether in activities or actual lesson plans. I incorporated a ‘Teacher for a Day’ concept where students lead the class for half or all of the period. Topics can either be selected by students from topics throughout the year, or they can choose their own. I always preferred it when they chose their own because you can really see what they can do with the language, as they combine language from all throughout the year to share or lead about a topic that really interests them! Topics have included everything from playing soccer, to global warming to repairing a car. We get to learn new things about and from our students, even at the end of the year.
7. Show them their growth in the language. Show them how far they have come since the beginning of the year! This could be done by comparing any samples, spoken or written from the beginning of the year to now. I used composition books as journals, but any samples from earlier in the year can be re-looked at and reflected on. Anything that may have digitally been collected will also be great to compare. Students will be amazed by how much more they can do, how much they have learned and it’s fun for them to see the mistakes they used to make, that they don’t anymore. I had one student say ‘I can’t believe I ever used to make that mistake.’ They feel proud and successful, thus fulfilling one of the OWL goals of intrinsic motivation and student ownership.
These are some ideas that have helped end the year on a high note! With language programs, it is important that students stay with the program and continue on to the next level. We have the perfect opportunity to end the year in a positive way that encourages students to keep going in the language. End the year strong, with fun and interaction, letting kids see how far they have come. Have it be a celebration of what they can do with the language and let them see that they are learning right up to the last day. What tips do you use? What are some of your go-to strategies that leave you ending on a high note?
*If you are curious about some of the concepts mentioned in the blog, such as Teacher for a Day, use of compositions books, assessment and reflection tools, or anything else, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.