The Final Countdown: Stress free lesson ideas for the end of the school year


If you're like me, you can almost feel the sunshine warming your cheeks. Summer is right around the corner!

Although the end of the school year can sometimes feel hectic, you and your students deserve to enjoy these final weeks together engaged in fun and meaningful learning. Here some lesson and unit plan ideas that will bring you to the end of the school year with ease. Whether you have three weeks left or, like me, you have six weeks left, below is a list of plans to get you there.

Two weeks left: A mini-research unit

Immerse your students in a meaningful mini-research project with The Refugee Experience. The Refugee Experience research project leads students to the United Nations Refugee Agency website where students can study the stories of refugees from around the world and from different periods of time.

After reading the stories of refugees, students choose one refugee to honor through further research of the circumstances that person experienced. Students build an understanding of past and current events, they practice research, analysis, and synthesis skills, and they produce a final project that is meaningful, relevant, and inspiring. One of the many teachers who implemented The Refugee Experience in her ELA classroom shared, "My students were so interested in this. You could have heard a pin drop in my class when they were reading the stories on the website."

This would make a great final-assessment of students' research skills if they've practiced research skills earlier in the school year or it would be a great way to build important researching skills as the school year comes to a close.

Need something different? Check out The Argument Games, a two week unit that will help your students to craft their final argument writing of the school year!

Three Weeks left: Passion Projects

If you've followed me for a long time, you know my passion for passion projects! Use your final three weeks to implement passion projects for independent reading and see your students reach a level of engagement you never imagined possible! My students blew my mind with their creativity and willingness to reach the highest levels of analysis through passion project work this school year.

To implement passion projects, allow students to choose their own novels, then give them time to design a project based on a single standard of their choice. For example, a student might choose the standard that focuses on analyzing how elements of a story interact. The project would reflect how one element of the story affects another.

Read more about implementing passion projects here.

Four Weeks: Literature Circles

Literature circles are the perfect way to engage students in a final text this school year. In literature circles, students do the work of learning by leading the lesson, analyzing the text, and applying what they learn to their individual work.

My students are in the midst of reading their literature circle novels as mentor texts for their writing. I didn't have specific literature circle novels. My one requirement was that students choose narrative texts (most novels fit this category) and read them in groups of 2-4 students. You can easily gather literature circle books from your library or classroom library; all you need is multiple copies of several book titles.