You've made it to the last week of school, but you're seriously burned out. What to do?! Read this blog post, of course - it rounds up 10 activities that are perfect for secondary grades during the last week of school! We're all tired at the end of the year, so these activities will help you and your high school students stay sane. Read more here!

We're finally in the last week of school--that long-awaited moment in time that feels more like an eternity. Some classes have exams the final week, and others do not. So here, in this final post before summer break, I want to discuss ways to keep students engaged (and yourself sane) whether your course has a final exam or not.

There is nothing new in this final post. It is rather a compilation of strategies I've written about over the years that I hope will help you in the last week of school.

So here is Simple Spring Engagement #1:

10 Activities for the Last Week of School

If You Are Testing:

1. Have a QR Code Scavenger Hunt. This is an amazing activity to encourage students to review while moving (and getting out nervous energy of impending exams). Post QR Codes around the school that contain questions. Have students find, scan, and answer the questions in teams. The first team to find and answer all questions wins! HERE are instructions and a printable cheat sheet for creating a QR Code Scavenger Hunt of your own.

2. Use Google Slides to Have a Collaborative Review. Have students create their own cumulative review to share with the class. Create student groups and assign each group a unit to teach. Their instructive slide will be a part of a whole class presentation that will serve as study guide for the exam. Be sure to read all about how to implement this and download the student rubric HERE.

3. Use Quizlet for Quick Vocabulary Reviews. If you've already built Quizlet sets for your units, then this requires no prep on your part. Of course, you can play the engaging collaborative game, Quizlet Live, but there's so much more you can do with Quizlet. Learn about some quick reviews HERE

4. Have a Cooperative Review. Students will make their own tests in groups and then answer each other's questions. Pull some of their questions into your exam for added engagement. Find out how to implement this and download the free resource HERE.

You've made it to the last week of school, but you're seriously burned out. What to do?! Read this blog post, of course - it rounds up 10 activities that are perfect for secondary grades during the last week of school! We're all tired at the end of the year, so these activities will help you and your high school students stay sane. Read more here!5. Review for Exams in 15 Minutes or Less. My school has short study sessions during final exam week. Find suggestions for mini exam reviews HERE.

If You Are Not Testing:

6. Have Students Create The Guidelines for a Final Project. Lead a class discussion about what students have learned in the course. Ask them what an ideal final project would be (nothing is not an option :)). As a class, construct a rubric. For an example, click HERE. Then have students work on the project.

7. Students Will Love Speed Drawing Their Year. The day before, ask students to reflect on their year in writing, and then have a class discussion. See if you can come up with topics as a class based on the discussion (possible topics may be "Classes," "Changes," "Friends," "Clubs," "Sports," "Discoveries," "Milestones," etc.). Set up a station for each topic. Place a piece of butcher paper at each station. Set a timer, and have students rotate through each station, drawing and writing a caption for whatever comes to mind. HERE are instructions for implementing Speed Drawing.

8. Have a Real-World Problem Solving Challenge. Follow the steps HERE to encourage students to think of a social problem and a possible solution. End the lesson with a discussion on ideas on how they can get involved in helping to see change through this summer.

9. Have Students Create a Top 10 List. Ask students to discuss the past school year with a partner. They should brainstorm and come up with a theme that encapsulates the year for them. It could be funny, cathartic, academic, social, etc. They should then list 10 examples from the past year that support that theme, counting down to example number 1. HERE's one I made about absurd teaching moments.  

10. Get Feedback for Next Year. This is not for the faint-hearted--but it is for those who truly want to grow. Create a survey for your students to complete that asks them to reflect over your course. Ask them what they enjoyed and what they didn't, what they thought was effective and what wasn't. Ask for suggestions for improvement. Use the more thoughtful feedback to update your plans over the summer.

I hope this year's Spring Countdown series has helped you--what are some ways you keep your students engaged until the end? Leave a comment and let me know. And remember--we're almost there!


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Make differentiating your lessons a breeze with the help of AutoMastery! AutoMastery is a free add-on for use with Google Forms, and it helps teachers differentiate instruction in a snap. Learn more about how this add-on works and how you can use it to make leveled assignments in your secondary classroom in this blog post!

I've been counting down to summer break with simple spring engagement tips. It's hard to believe that there are only two weeks left in the 2017-2018 school year, but our goal is to finish strong (even though most of us [ahem...me] aren't feeling strong). In the words of one of my former admins, "We need to outlast them."

And SO... I've been cataloging simple strategies to keep the students engaged to the bitter end--Use Your Smart Phone to Make Discussions Count, Get Students Moving with Speed Drawing, Create a Classroom Simulation in Four Steps, and Five Ways to Make Test Week Manageable (When You're Not Testing)

Make differentiating your lessons a breeze with the help of AutoMastery! AutoMastery is a free add-on for use with Google Forms, and it helps teachers differentiate instruction in a snap. Learn more about how this add-on works and how you can use it to make leveled assignments in your secondary classroom in this blog post!
This week, I want to talk about an INSANELY simple way to differentiate. In this end of the year context, I'm using it for exam review. But that doesn't do it justice...not at all. We can use this tool to differentiate all year. With MINIMAL effort.

Think pretests and other formative assessments having leveled assignments pushed out to students based on their scores. AUTOMATICALLY. Thank you, MaryEllen West, my hero, for creating this astoundingly useful differentiation tool. Scroll to the end of this post for a video tutorial and downloadable Cheat Sheet for using the free Add-On AutoMastery.

How to Differentiate with AutoMastery

AutoMastery is a free Google Forms Add-On that enables you to give students a diagnostic quiz, and based on their scores, to sort students into three groups—beginning, intermediate, and mastery. AutoMastery then emails your students assignments appropriate to their score. 

Of course, you set up assignments and assign the links--just remember to change the link to force a copy if you are using Google Docs or Slides so that the students can edit without messing up your originals. 
Make differentiating your lessons a breeze with the help of AutoMastery! AutoMastery is a free add-on for use with Google Forms, and it helps teachers differentiate instruction in a snap. Learn more about how this add-on works and how you can use it to make leveled assignments in your secondary classroom in this blog post!
Thanks to Natasha Rachell for the time-saving Force Copy tip!

How I Used AutoMastery to Differentiate Exam Review

Exams are the Bane of Spring, especially in content-heavy courses where we have to work right up to exam time to finish. AutoMastery can save the day here.

1. Create a diagnostic quiz in Google Forms that encompasses major ideas from each unit the exam will cover. I did 25 questions and explained to the students that it was not comprehensive, but diagnostic.

2. Set three levels for the score. I did below 70 for Beginner and above 90 for Mastery. AutoMastery then makes the Intermediate level between 70 and 89 automatically.

3. Force a copy link for the three different assignments and paste the links into the levels in AutoMastery.

4. Instruct students to check their email when they finish the quiz and to complete the review assignment.

Make differentiating your lessons a breeze with the help of AutoMastery! AutoMastery is a free add-on for use with Google Forms, and it helps teachers differentiate instruction in a snap. Learn more about how this add-on works and how you can use it to make leveled assignments in your secondary classroom in this blog post!
Be sure to check out the video tutorial and download the Cheat Sheet:


Make differentiating your lessons a breeze with the help of AutoMastery! AutoMastery is a free add-on for use with Google Forms, and it helps teachers differentiate instruction in a snap. Learn more about how this add-on works and how you can use it to make leveled assignments in your secondary classroom in this blog post!
Download It Now
How do you differentiate in your classroom? Leave a comment to let me know, and don't forget to check back next week for the final Simple Spring Engagement Tip--Two more week 'til summer break! :)


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Testing week is never fun for anyone, and sometimes we end up with classes of students for long periods of time while other groups test. How can we work through that with high school students? In this post, I'm sharing five ways to make test week manageable for secondary students and teachers. Click through to learn the five tips!

Three weeks until summer break, and it's finally here, what we've been waiting for since the beginning--state mandated standardized testing.

I don't need to elaborate on the particular joys of the season as we are all aware of them, but there is
Testing week is never fun for anyone, and sometimes we end up with classes of students for long periods of time while other groups test. How can we work through that with high school students? In this post, I'm sharing five ways to make test week manageable for secondary students and teachers. Click through to learn the five tips!
one particular joy I'm trying to dampen just a bit. That's having a non-testing class for three hours straight while some of the students are not there because they are, in fact, testing.

What do you do with that time? It's hard to move on because some of your students are testing. The students you still have are basically zombies from testing earlier in the day or week. All they want to do is stare at their phones, but they do enough of that every other second of their lives.

So here it is, Simple Spring Engagement #3:

Five Ways to Make Test Week Manageable (When You're Not Testing)

1. Play Games

Testing week is never fun for anyone, and sometimes we end up with classes of students for long periods of time while other groups test. How can we work through that with high school students? In this post, I'm sharing five ways to make test week manageable for secondary students and teachers. Click through to learn the five tips!
No matter how old you are, games are fun (ever seen Game Night? Don't show it to your students, but it's a fun watch). Plus, they foster community and collaboration and competition, and they get students' noses out of a screen and force socialization. All of these soft skills are important.

When I go to thrift stores, I pick up games. Great ones for the classroom are UNO, Life, Monopoly, Jenga, and various versions of Trivial Pursuit. Jigsaw puzzles are relaxing and great for collaboration.

If you want to bring your content into it, you can write vocabulary, people, events, and concepts on a strips of paper and play Charades or Pictionary. I'll sometimes type vocabulary for the entire year, one word per slide, and play "Face the Class"--a Head's Up style game in which a student has to stand with her back to the word while classmates shout out hints without saying the word. This is easy to make yourself, but here's a good-looking template with a timer and scoreboard ready to go.

2. Color (Seriously)

Testing week is never fun for anyone, and sometimes we end up with classes of students for long periods of time while other groups test. How can we work through that with high school students? In this post, I'm sharing five ways to make test week manageable for secondary students and teachers. Click through to learn the five tips!
Students are often stressed during test week, and coloring is relaxing. If I'm having a game day, I'll often print out coloring sheets for students who just want to sit quietly and color. Crayola has some you can print for free here.

If there's a content-related movie I want to show, I always have a coloring film guide (especially during testing week) to keep students focused and relaxed. The added bonus is that they're still learning. You can check out my Color-Fill Film Guides here.

3. Have Creative Mini Reviews

Testing week is never fun for anyone, and sometimes we end up with classes of students for long periods of time while other groups test. How can we work through that with high school students? In this post, I'm sharing five ways to make test week manageable for secondary students and teachers. Click through to learn the five tips!
Grab This Free Handout
Task Cards are great for this. If you are unfamiliar with task cards, they are bite-sized tasks written on
cards. Students can draw one task from a hat to complete or complete all of them. I like them because I laminate them to store in index card boxes to use again and again.

I have a set of free early finisher task cards here that are perfect for mini reviews.

I also love to have students represent what they've learned in pictures. A fun strategy is to ask each student to create "film" storyboards of a unit or topic you have covered over the school year. Download a free handout for this here.

4. Reflect on the Year

I also use task cards for this. I like to ask students to either draw a couple randomly or complete all 12 task cards. They give tips to future students, reflect on activities, and set future goals. You can also download these task cards for free here.

5. Have Students Make (Productive) Summer Plans

No, I'm not talking about scoring Play Station trophies--I'm talking about encouraging students to get to know their hometowns.

What makes your town/city unique? Does it have a rich history? An aquarium? Interesting people to talk to? Plan a short presentation on local (educational) things for students to do over the summer. Discuss your town's history briefly. Get your students interested in being tourists in their hometowns this summer. Here's a free activity you can give them to reinforce this.

And finally, what if you find yourself giving a test like I often do--locked in a stuffy room with students for three hours at a time with no digital devices, reading, or grading allowed? There's not much you can do at that point, but if you've ever found yourself testing Algebra I students in a French classroom with a window view of a parking lot, then this poem (penciled on sticky notes) is for you:

Testing week is never fun for anyone, and sometimes we end up with classes of students for long periods of time while other groups test. How can we work through that with high school students? In this post, I'm sharing five ways to make test week manageable for secondary students and teachers. Click through to learn the five tips!

How do you keep yourself sane during testing? Leave a comment and let me know. And don't forget to check out the tips in my other Simple Spring Engagement series: Week 6, Week 5, Week 4.

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