What to do at the end of the year when students are checked out?

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checked out

Every year I get to this point of the school year where the weather has changed, the students are restless and the ideas are running thin on how to keep their attention.  Even though I have done this job for 18 years this crazy end of the year phenomenon still sneaks up on me.  This year I have been planning and preparing for this moment and it feels good.  So allow me to share with you the ideas I have to re-focus those students and put all that summer energy into constructive use.  

Now, more than ever, is the time to get students up and moving and using the language.  Students need to be prepared for finals and as teachers we need to check to see where students stand…are they prepared to move to the next level?  Let’s take a look at a few activities that will add some freshness to the classroom and energize you and your students.  


Bluff-0-Rama: Start by separating the class into two or more teams.  Ask a question to one of the teams.  Students will stand if they know the answer, think they know the answer or are bluffing the other team into thinking they know the answer.  Count up the students standing.  This will be the points the team earns or loses.  The other team will choose a student to answer the question.  If the answer is correct, the team earns points. If it is answered incorrectly, the team loses points and the other team can steal the points by answering correctly.  This is a great way to review culture and grammar as well as signs.  I don’t allow the team to discuss the answers just stand. This lets me know who knows the information and who needs extra help.  I also don’t allow the same student to be picked twice in a row.  This means the student called on in round one can’t be chosen in round 2 and can stand without worry of being called on.  

Extended Activity: I have the students create the questions themselves as homework. They write the question and the answer.  This allows students time to review and again allows me to check what students know. I assign 4 – 6 questions for each students because you will end up with a lot of repeated questions.  

brackettemplateBrackets: I got this idea from the Spanish Mama and I love it.  Review any topic like foods, colors, countries, clothing…anything.  Create a bracket on the board with the words you want to review.  Sign a question to find out which word moves up in the bracket. Designate one side of the room for like and the other for don’t like or the yes or no.  This is a great activity for the last few minutes of class, daily review or to get kids up and moving.  It can be done without the bracket but the bracket is good for the visual learner.  You can go to the Spanish Mama’s blog and get her Powerpoint for the bracket.

Extended activity: Have a debate and have students try to persuade others to come to their side or have students create their own bracket and work in small groups. 

5signsParameter Review: There are a lot of ways you can review vocabulary but none are as fun as this “board” game I have created. The game has questions to get students thinking about signs, how they are made and what they know.  What I love about this game is that there is no limit on what vocabulary you review or at what level students are currently ranked.  This activity can take a full class period or makes a great sub plan for intermediate and advanced signers. I wouldn’t leave a more novice class this activity unsupervised unless they had built up a large vocabulary.   

Image Source: Cult of Pedagogy 

Chat Stations: Set up topics you have covered throughout the year and post them around the room.  Set a timer and have students move in groups of 2 – 4 students around the room and simply chat about that topic.  When the buzzer sounds students should move to the next topic until they have made it through all the questions you posted.  Time should vary depending on what level the class is.  Novice learners will need less time and more advanced learners will need more time.  

Extended activity: Have students summarize what each group member’s response was for each topic and turn in for class credit.  


Around the World: This one isn’t a new concept but it is a good end of the year review game that helps demolish the glazed over look in a student’s eyes.  Circle up desks for all the students in the classroom except one.  That one student will stand next to another student in the circle.  Ask for students to tell you the meaning of a sign, translate a sentence, answer a comprehension question or respond with the accurate answer to a culture question.  The student who answers the question correctly first  moves to the next position in the circle. The object of the game is to see how far one student can travel without making a mistake.  Students want to move around the circle and end up in their original seat.  The first person to arrive at their original chair wins.  Only two students can answer the question and compete at a time.

I hope wrapping up your year will be fantastic and both you and your students will be energized using these activities. If you like what you read, click the follow button to receive notifications with new posts.