"Quickies": Activities that require little to no prep and can be completed in a class period
Some really involved projects that might take a week or more to complete:
2. "We Are So Inspired" Instead of "We Didn't Start the Fire" have students reflect on their year of learning by writing a song. Record it, then make DVDs for them and you have a great end of the year gift as well.
This would also be a great lesson to introduce at the beginning of the year, having students write a verse each month. Then it's not such a big project at the end of the year and the details of the events are still fresh in their minds-rather than trying to remember October in May. Thanks to Ben Cogswell for that great idea during our lesson makers session at #CUEbold. Nicholas Zefeldt is responsible for the Genius Link in the "Explore" section of this lesson. Both are creative and generous educators (you should follow them) and I'm thankful for the assistance in upgrading this lesson while attending the CUE Bold (Blended and Online Learning Design) conference. I highly recommend attending next year's conference-it's a great opportunity to collaborate with amazing educators on lesson design.
- My kids love this one I found from Kara Wilkins' blog, To Engage Them All. She calls it "Grudgeball" and the directions for how to play are on her blog. Just the site of the nerf basketball hoop with the word "Grudgeball" on it peaks their interest when they walk in the room.
- I also like to have my class create their own games, and I wrote a blog post about a game that we made. That lesson is also available in Hyperdoc format HERE This year we are turning our Open House event into "Family Game Night" because the students created a lot of fun games this year.
- I'm fan of Kahoot and Quizziz and so are my students. Both of these multiplayer, digital quiz games require access to computers. If you share a computer lab or cart with other teachers access can be difficult to get this time of year. If you have 1-to-1 access to technology you should definitely try these tools though.
- I have a big pocket chart that we use to play a quiz show type of game and I was able to purchase some cool light up buzzers with my scholastic bonus points this year to add to the fun. I have an example page that I use when explaining how to write different styles of questions. Feel free to download it and use it with your class: How to Write a Quiz Question. This is a super simple project: category headings, point value cards, and then students create the questions. All of this gets arranged in the pocket chart and go-nothing fancy, but it is fun.
- One group of students made an awesome game in Google Slides by using the linking slides feature. It was called "Are you smarter than a 6th grader?" They ran their game with the 5th graders when they came for their orientation field trip to our school and everyone really enjoyed it. The explanation and game slides are in this blog post: "Are You Smarter than a 6th Grader?"
Regardless of the style of game we are playing, I prefer to have the students come up with the questions-it's a sneaky way to get them to review the material. I have an example page that I use when explaining how to write different styles of questions. Feel free to download it and use it with your class: How to Write a Quiz Question.
Another lesson that I created for students to create their own assessments is in this Hyperdoc focused on mythology.
Check out the slides I put together to get parents involved HERE
4. Orientation Videos: The 5th graders come to the middle school for an orientation/field trip at the end of the year and I teach a Media elective in which we study all forms of persuasion in the media (PSAs, political cartoons, commercials, documentaries, TED talks, etc.). For our end of the year fun in that class we are making commercials for the elective classes and clubs, PSAs on middle school survival tips, and some other videos to add in just for fun. The videos will be shown at the orientation and will be posted on our web page. I am super excited about "The Locker Games". It is a parody of "The Hunger Games" scene with the cornucopia, but instead of getting survival gear, they must get to their locker, get their materials, and make it to the next class in four minutes while avoiding the hallway obstacles-and those terribly rude locker shutters. The video below is a student project from my media elective:
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My Bucket List of End of the Year Fun:
1. TED talk: I am hoping to get a TED-ed club started next year and I would like to end the year with TED talks, which we have in the evening so families can attend. If you have an interest in starting a TED-ed club go to: http://ed.ted.com/clubs and apply. Once you apply, you can download the facilitator materials there.
2. Student Media Festival: I would really love to showcase all of the awesome videos we made and have a film festival with "Academy Awards" rather than the traditional style Open House.
3. Poetry Slam: Poetry Month is in April and it would be great to showcase that work poetry slam style. There's a local cafe that has evening poetry events and it would be a wonderful opportunity to show off our rhymes in the community as well. I can't think of poetry without also thinking about "Epic Rap Battles in History". They are not all classroom appropriate, so don't take this as an endorsement and not preview first. Do check out their website though, the videos are funny. I teach English and History and I try to integrate the two subjects as much as possible, so our epic rap battles might be between historical figures and literary figures or authors.
These last two ideas are awesome, but they would require multiple teachers or an entire school to participate:
Will Kimbley from Tulare County USD shared some photos of their "Night at the 21st Century Museum" on Twitter last year and it looks like an amazing event. The Tulare County Office of Ed has resources that they are sharing on their website. If your school has a "Genius Hour" program, this would be a great opportunity to showcase those projects. "Genius Hour" is something I am hoping to start next year. I found a blog that seems to be mainly focused on "Genius Hour". If you are reading this and you have additional information to share, I would love to learn more.
We haven't yet adopted the Maker movement at our school, but if we do I am thinking that an end of the year parade with Maker group floats would be so cool. Battlebots are also awesome. What middle school student wouldn't be into an event that involved Battlebots?