You’ve finally made it to the last few weeks of the school year, but you still need to continue teaching. Oh, and the students are only getting more restless by the day. With students’ attention spans even shorter than usual, what can you do to survive until the end of the year? Here are 5 end-of-school-year activities for high school English that won’t require a ton of prep but will still be enjoyable for students!
End of School Year Activities for High School English #1: Have Students Reflect On All That They’ve Read
Chances are your students have read at least one book at some point this year. Why not use the end of the school year as an opportunity to have students reflect on everything they’ve read?
There are so many ways to do this!
If you have a classroom library and do independent reading, you can have students write a review for their favorite read of the year. These reviews can then be placed in your classroom library. (Imagine the reviews you see around indie bookstores.) Or, they can be saved to share with next year’s students.
You could even turn them into a bulletin board (and check off next year’s back-to-school decorating!).
Book trailers are another fun and short project. These could also be repurposed into teaching content for next year.
The best book trailers can also be added to a class website. Next year, this page can serve as a reference page for students looking for their next read.
One last quick and easy activity I love is to have students make an “Instagram post” about a book. This could be any book they loved or the most recent whole-class novel.
For this, start with a paper template (I have one here). Let students draw and write a “post.” For the image, give students some parameters for what to include. Having them design a book cover, decorate an important quote, or include symbols from the novel are good ones.
The text below the “post” should connect their image to the book with a few key hashtags.
This activity is great for two reasons. First, it requires no prep from you! Second, it lets kids be creative during the part of the year when they’re most checked out. (And these will also make a great bulletin board.)
End of School Year Activities for High School English #2: Keep Reviewing Grammar Concepts
Just because you’ve almost made it to the finish line doesn’t mean you can stop teaching. But it probably is time to let up on new concepts and make sure the old ones actually stick.
Grammar is one of those concepts that are really hard to get to stick. You need to keep reviewing and reviewing until the very last day.
Review doesn’t have to be boring, though. Now’s the time to play some grammar games, let kids review parts of speech using Mad Labs, or have students compete in a grammar review.
You can also keep things simple and hand out some grammar review worksheets. If you want to make them a little more fun, pass out candy or treats for students who get every problem correct.
Alternatively, extra worksheets can be offered as a way for students to raise their grades. You can let students earn back points on old grammar quizzes or assignments by doing some extra review.
If you need some grammar worksheets, I have a collection of Summer-themed Grammar Review Worksheets here! They cover a variety of topics and each has a summer-y topic throughout. They’re the perfect end-of-the-year review!
End of School Year Activities for High School English #3: Have Students Write a Letter
Writing a letter is an essential skill that not many students actually practice. Teens today just don’t have much reason to write them, but that doesn’t mean they won’t need to know how later in life.
You can use the last few weeks of the year to teach a simple but essential skill like letter writing.
And there are so many kinds of letters students can write at the end of the year!
You can have students write a gratitude letter to a member of staff for Teacher Appreciation Week (the first week in May).
Or you can have them write letters to your next class with tips and advice for the incoming students.
Students could even write cover letters for summer jobs they might be interested in.
I definitely recommend teaching students the different parts of a letter and reviewing formal and informal tones. If they’ll be physically mailing the letters, don’t forget to review how to address an envelope. I know I was surprised by how many of my students couldn’t address an envelope when we wrote letters.
Need a letter-writing lesson? Grab this Letter Writing & Envelope Addressing Lesson right here! It also includes directions for writing that gratitude letter!
End of School Year Activities for High School English #4: Write Some Poetry
Because poetry can be quick to both read and write, it’s the perfect topic for the last few weeks of the year.
Obviously, there is a neverending supply of poetry to read or write. But I think having students write an ode poem works especially well for the end of the year.
Students can write odes to the last day of school, summer vacation, or to their favorite teacher/class/activity/memory from the school year. The structure of odes is rigid enough that it provides the opportunity to review some literary vocabulary but loose enough that students can still have fun with it.
Plus, as the weather gets better and better, you can score some bonus points with your students by taking them outside to write.
Don’t want to prep an ode lesson? I don’t blame you. Get my Ode Writing Lesson right here. It includes a slideshow, student worksheets, and can be done digitally or in person.
End of School Year Activities for High School English #5: Enrichment Project
If you wrap up your last big unit and still have a few weeks left in the year, it might be the perfect time for an enrichment project! An enrichment project can be anything that gets students thinking creatively–even if it’s not quite on the curriculum. If you’ve ever wanted to incorporate project-based learning or genius hours into your classroom, now’s the time.
There are endless possibilities for enrichment projects. I encourage you to think about what you’ve taught this year and your students’ interests. The best projects will take inspiration from both.
Maybe this is the time to have students listen to some podcasts before recording their own. Or maybe they can give speeches or presentations on a topic/hobby/interest that they’re passionate about.
One idea that will keep students learning as they investigate their own interests is an author study. Letting students choose what authors they want to study provides a learning opportunity with differentiation, scaffolding, and high interest.
Students can study the work of their chosen author for a week or two before attempting to replicate that author’s style in an original story or collection of poems.
And you don’t even have to plan this one. Get everything you need for an Author Study Project right here. Included are the directions, student worksheets, tips, and rubric you’ll need.
Finding that balance between maintaining rigor, using every minute of class time available, and sheer survival is really hard. If your last few weeks of the school year are spent enjoying time with your students more often than driving home content, that’s ok.
Let them write raps, tell goofy stories, and play word games. They’ll end the year on a positive note, and so will you.
I have one last word of advice–don’t be too hard on yourself at the end of the year. You probably have lots of papers to grade, final meetings to attend, and might even be prepping for summer school. Don’t make your last few weeks harder than necessary by dragging your students through dull curriculum or doing something all of you hate.
Find a way to end the year that creates a smile for you and your students.