Tech Tips for Teachers | Blog Post

4 Tips for Surviving the Last Half of the School Year

Well, it’s here: the last half of the school year. We all love the students, but we know how tough the end of the year gets with standardized tests, spring sports activities and active kids. The best way to keep engaged in your teaching and to enjoy your job is to be prepared. (And of course students appreciate a clear plan and instructions.) To help teachers finish strong, I’ve put together some tips for surviving the end of the year.

Challenge your students to create some lesson plans of their own. Give them topics and let them work in pairs on Google Docs. It’s easy to tell who did what parts of the work because Google Docs has tracking capabilities. They can add images and links to information that they feel is important to the topic. Assign them different topics if you are running low on time, and then have them share the information with the class. You can provide a list of the important points from each topic to the class for them to study, and then give them a test over the information. Another way I have used this method is to have them create a wiki page or a Google site or even just put together a presentation or word processing document with the information. Then pick a day for them to open their work on their computers and let the students do a scavenger hunt for answers by traveling around the room to find answers from each other’s work. If you choose this method, be sure to provide students with specific details about what they need to include for each topic you assign.

Check off your teaching objectives for the year against what you have already covered. Create a word-processing document or spreadsheet listing that you can update and use each year — or you can use the “list” app that is found on many cell phones and tablets. (These lists can usually be e-mailed as documents too.) If you have your objectives in print and you don’t have time to create a new listing, just print it out and check off what you have already completed so you can tell if you will be running short on time — or maybe even have extra!

I mentioned those standardized tests earlier. If your district is like the ones where I’ve worked, the students will be in and out of your classroom due to the testing schedules. Plan ahead to assign a fun project to students when it is time for objective tests. Introduce the lesson before testing starts and make sure your students understand that they are to work on the assignment only when they are not testing. This will give them something to do when they are in a class while others are testing and they aren’t. I try to pick fun assignments like a presentation about themselves or creating an internet scavenger hunt story. What’s that? Give them a topic to research and tell them to create a timeline of education with links to the answers. Have them create a document with links to information in a logical order that teaches or tells the story of the information they found. It has to be in order, as if they were explaining the information to someone else.

Another way to help with the end of the year? Start journaling with your students. Even if you teach math, journaling is a great way to help students see what they have learned. They can use an online tool depending on your district’s online policies.

Most of all, remember why you started teaching: a true love of learning and those “aha” moments you see students have!

About the Author

Ellen Zimmerman is a faculty member at Western Governors University, where she mentors students in the College of Information Technology. Her master's degree is in Educational Technology Leadership, and she has a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. Currently, she is a doctoral student at the University of North Texas with a focus on learning cognition and curriculum.