For some of us, the end of the school year coincides with Memorial Day. Folks are already making plans for those last few weeks of school, including ideas for the last day of class. The following recommendations were shared in social media when an NCTE member asked for suggestions for an end-of-school-year activity:
- Give students a freewrite prompt—an inspirational quote about the future, a reflection on what they are proud of achieving in the course, words of advice to future students, etc. The student has five minutes to write and then discussion can follow.
- Invite students to complete a survey about the class or the semester and provide feedback. This can be done on paper or via Google Forms or other online platform.
- Play a game! Collect concluding paragraphs from novels that were read during the year. Ask students to reread each paragraph and see if they can recall which novel and author the paragraph was from, and then see if they can make some overall assertions about what great writers attempt to leave us with.
- Spend 30 minutes leading them through a close reading of Elizabeth Bishop’s villanelle “One Art”—a perfect farewell poem that encapsulates all the paradoxes of memory and forgetting!
- Share Faulkner’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech—a good way to end the course and reflect on the meaning of literature as they leave the classroom.
- Take time for a discussion on the topic, “How is what you have learned in this class affecting your life outside this classroom?” Students seem to genuinely enjoy presenting examples of direct effects of the class on their day-to-day existence, and the critical thinking necessary to make the connections between “real” life and education supports mastery and retention of the material.
- Encourage students to make a video, providing suggestions for the next students of the class or course.
- Engage students in a study of humor! Invite students to research and share what made people laugh and why. Conclude with students describing their own favorite humor
What ideas could you add to this list?