Welcome back to this week’s edition of Naiku’s Coach’s Corner
It is that time of year when standardized testing is looming or may have already passed for some. I have found that after standardized testing has passed, students become more chatty and restless. Much like teachers, students can feel the year coming to an end. With the school year shortly coming to a conclusion, as teachers, we have two big challenges ahead of us: keeping students motivated and making sure we successfully cover all of our standards or learning targets for the year. Below, I discuss ways to keep students motivated at the end of the year as well as how I keep my standards organized throughout the year.
How to motivate students and keep them on task at the end of the year is challenging at best, especially after state tests are over. In fact, the more we prep kids for tests, the harder it is to keep kids on task after testing ends. It’s just a matter of funneling that energy into something constructive!
Here are 6 effective strategies to turn students’ end-of-year energy into instructional success. Use these strategies to finish up the standards you have yet to cover this year:
- Learning Centers – One of the easiest ways to keep kids on task is to create some simple learning centers and allow students to rotate through the activities with a partner.
- Literature Circles – If your students are bored by reading a basal text or doing test prep worksheets, they will definitely enjoy Literature Circles.
- Cooperative Learning – Cooperative learning activities are naturally motivating to students. Being able to discuss ideas and interact with other students is a sure-fire strategy for keeping kids involved. The key is to establish clear guidelines for classroom management so the fun doesn’t become chaotic.
- Outdoor Learning – When the weather turns warm and sunny, everyone longs to be outside. Many activities like reading, writing poetry, doing science experiments, or playing math games can be taken outside. Ask students to bring beach blankets or towels for these special times.
- Team Challenges – From Egg Drop Challenges to Tower Building, team challenges motivate students to think creatively and work together in order to solve a task. You can find many such activities that integrate math and science.
- Multimedia Projects – Challenge your students to work alone or in teams to create multi-media presentations. Possible topics include anything from a recap of the school year to their dreams for the future.
Now that we have the students’ focusing their energy and excitement toward learning, we can focus on covering the rest of our standards for the year. Keeping your standards organized from the beginning of the year, to the end of the year can be difficult. Teachers use a variety of different ways to track what standards they’ve taught/tested and what they have not.
Tracking standards in Naiku is a great way to keep organized throughout the year. At Naiku, we use a feature call Curriculum Maps to create, track, and organize your standards/learning targets. I have created a sample Curriculum Map for 6th Grade Mathematics that can be found here. I started my Curriculum Map by loading the 6th Grade Common Core Standards as the base for my map (you can also create a map with just your unique standards). From here you have the ability to add your own learning targets that your school may use. Once this Curriculum Map is assigned to the class, the assessments that are assigned to that class will show up on the right side, as shown in my example. You can click on each assessment and see what standards that you have assigned to that test. This makes keeping your standards and learning targets organized throughout the year easy and can also help teachers recognize what standards they still need to cover.
I hope you found the information useful as the school year nears an end. For more information on how to use Curriculum Maps, visit our support page here.
If you have suggestions for future topics that you would like to see me discuss, please send me a note at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @sethw06.