At the end of every school year, I struggle to stay motivated. It’s the end of state testing, so what do we do for the last 2-3 weeks? Half of the struggle is that the kids are just done, and the other half is that it is so nice outside and I can’t stop thinking about pools and sleeping in. I start fantasizing about all of the vacations I could take if I had the money, and then just put it in my back pocket to save for later. Maybe in five years type of later.
According to Time’s article by Eric Barker, there are 3 essential ways to stay motivated:
One-Pagers are great for beginning-intermediate level ELs because they can focus on visuals to show what they learned. Here’s an example from our curriculum that I used to make a One-Pager assignment:
Create a One-Pager that demonstrates one of the themes of Fahrenheit 451. Include any characters, setting, conflicts, figurative language, symbolism, or imagery that you think most strongly conveys the selected theme. Include at least two pieces of evidence with correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
Examples of One-Pagers from We Are Teachers:
Virtual Field Trip
This is one that you may not be able to use for every text you are reading. For example, I couldn’t think of anywhere to “go” with Fahrenheit 451, but we did talk about dystopias and had read about genocide before this. It’s a great way to integrate visuals and video for your ELs as well. Here’s one that we may do to go along with the text:
View photos from a concentration camp, a video from a Holocaust survivor, a video of Nazis burning books, and view a concentration camp from Google Earth. Connect what you learned on your trip with the text. How did the idea of a perfect society turn into a dystopia with the Nazis? Make a poster demonstrating what you learned from your field trip and a short paragraph at the bottom answering this question with correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Have students present to the class, and then they will have worked in the domains of reading, writing, speaking, and listening!
Create a Blog Post
Having students create a blog post is versatile because for beginners, teachers can have students insert more visuals, charts, and graphs along with sentence stems and frames. For more advanced students, they can showcase more of their writing abilities with some of the academic vocabulary they have learned throughout the year in paragraph frames if needed.
Not to mention this project will help them become a little more technologically literate, since we know they are good in the social media aspect of technology, but still may need a little help with setting up and using emails, blogs, and Google Drive for example.
The best part is- this one can be as creative as you want it to be! You can have students pretend to be a character and talk about conflicts, setting, mood, etc. They can still show you what they learned through a narrative format or an analysis. Then they can continue to use their blog as they wish, or they can just forget their passwords and start a new account in the future ;)
Create a Podcast
Podcasts are so popular today, and a great way to practice speaking. For beginning to intermediate levels, students can say a summary of the text with some sentence stems or paragraph frames with new academic language learned. For the more advanced level, paragraph frames can be adjusted and scaled back.
Here’s an example beginner podcast assignment:
Discuss one of the themes from Fahrenheit 451. Talk about any characters, setting, conflicts, figurative language, symbolism, or imagery that you think most strongly conveys the selected theme. Include at least two pieces of evidence.
Sentence stems: One of the main themes of Fahrenheit 451 is ___________. The author demonstrates this when _________________. For example, on page _____, it says, “____________________________.” This shows us that _________________. In addition, on page ____, the text says, “_____________________________________.” In my opinion, this theme was the most important because ______________________.
Each student could present their own short podcast, or they could split up parts between them. Also, The New York Times has a student podcast contest and includes a lesson plan to get you started. Again, this is one that can become as creative as you want it to be for your students.
Back up to the original list: Get Rewarded and Get Peer Pressure! After your students complete their projects, get yourself a treat and engage in some healthy peer pressure options for yourself:
Happy End of the School Year!
To learn more about strategies for incorporating language into your lessons, check out my course, My EL Mentor: Creating a Language-Rich Classroom! And if you are a high school teacher, consider joining my membership, My MLL Mentor, to discuss ideas like this with other high school ESL teachers!
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