As June (and all it brings with it) unfolds, minds start to wander, summer day dreaming begins and as a result students start to lose their focus with all the activities that are competing for their attention. This usually results in increased classroom management concerns as well as a significant drop in productivity. My plan at this time of the year is to keep my students as engaged as possible to the very last minute. This is accomplished in two ways. The first is that they become decision makers in what we are going to learn about. This can be done either as a class or as individual learning modules. The students will compose a question to which they will seek to answer. How do words travel from a studio over the radio so that we can hear them is an inquiry chosen by one of my students this year. The questions they create have to be approved and meet the criteria we have pre-established.
The length of this unit is about 3 weeks and will culminate with a classroom open house whereby the other students in the school will be able to visit our work over two days. The student must be at their site in order to share information they have uncovered and answer any questions their audience may have. Needless to say, this unit generates some of the best work of the year. For me as a teacher, it allows me that opportunity to witness (and assess) the transfer of a year’s work of academic focus in reading, writing and oral language.
The premise remains the same as I have used drama presentations, storytelling and musical performances to keep my students school focused and engaged until the last minute of school. I encourage you to share other ideas you have used or witnessed as end of the year units.