As for some of us this term might be coming to an end, I’d like to share some of my favourite end of term activities. There are 7 different activities described here, falling under 3 categories: Reflective, Competitive, and Rapport Celebration.
A letter to your future students
Cheers to my friend Kasia for telling me about this activity. Ask your students to (anonymously) write a letter to people who are going to take the course with you next year. They should try to give as much useful advice as possible:
- what was the hardest part of the course?
- what was the best part?
- what did you enjoy the most?
- what’s the most effective way to keep up with the course?
- what did you think about the coursebook?
- what was the most memorable class?
- who would you recommend taking this course to?
- any words of wisdom regarding the teacher?
You can read their letters together / have students read their classmates’ letters and decide on the best pieces of advice given.
I’ve discovered this exercise to be a way more valuable source of feedback about the course than any traditional assessment forms. It’s playful yet meaningful and gives students the feeling they have a lot of important knowledge to bestow on whoever might take the same course in the future. I was, obviously, extremely curious about the “advice about the teacher” section. Some comments were very accurate (She gets angry when you’re late.), some were endearing (She only gets angry when you forget your homework for the 4th time!) and some were enlightening ( I sometimes don’t understand what she writes on the board. She needs to work on that.)
I have never (for shame!) tried a more visual way of encouraging students to self-assess, especially the younger ones. I’ve used David’s ideas (sadly, not the Yearbook one as I teach individual classes with my youngest students) and loved how it got my kids thinking: What did we really do in classes this year? What did I like? What was cool? What was tough? It was not easy for them at first to get their heads around the idea of reflecting on the lessons and I think the visually appealing worksheets helped a lot.
Would you rather…
This idea offers quite a fun way to reflect on the language learned during the course, its difficulty and value to the students. You take the format of Would you rather (be 2 metres tall or 1 meter tall?) and ask students to compare different areas/topics/types of exercises you’ve covered during the course:
- Would you rather discuss technology or environment? Why?
- Would you rather do writing or reading homework? Why?
- Would you rather work with a partner or alone? Why?
- Would you rather learn phrasal verbs or collocations? Why?
- Would you rather work in a workbook or on a tablet? Why?
Some of my students’ suggestions (more radical and entertaining than mine) include:
- Would you rather talk all the time in class or never talk in class at all?
- Would you rather do a couple of exercises each week as homework or do one big project at the end of each term?
- Would you rather have a 10-minute break in the middle of the class or finish 10 minutes earlier?
- Would you rather always work with the same person on class or always work alone?
- Would you rather sings songs or recite poems in class? Why?
- Would you rather do Use of English exercises for 2 hours non-stop or Listening exercises for 3 hours non-stop? Why?
You might prepare some of these questions yourself but the idea is for the students to come up with most of the questions and then discuss them with their partners/groups. It encourages them to think about what happened in classes during the course and their choices already reveal a lot about their preferences. This activity quite naturally leads to talking about what worked best/worst during the course, what could be improved /dropped from the curriculum, where they struggled/succeed the most and so on.
Another idea might be to organise a fun General Knowledge Quiz. There are plenty of questions available online or you might want to adjust the questions to your students’ age and background.
Tim’s idea about the Top 5 Quiz shows a slightly different way of engaging students’ in a competition involving general knowledge. It’s easily adaptable to different groups of students.
I believe that as much as it’s important to help students get to know each other at the end of the course, it’s equally valuable to celebrate the group rapport at the end of the course and leave your students with the feeling that they enjoyed their time spent in class on a purely social level (goes for adults, teens, and kids alike).
Tell me something I (probably) don’t know
Everybody (the teacher included) writes a slightly less known fact about themselves on a piece of paper. All the cards go into a container. Then, each student draws one, reads it out and the rest of the group should guess who wrote it. This game is a great conversation starter, a source of some fun surprises and unexpected turns.
The game is based on the party game Celebrity where two teams guess names of famous people. It works best for bigger groups.
Write the name of each student and your own on a separate piece of paper. Put them in a container. Divide your students into at least two teams. One person from the first team draws a name from the container and has 30 seconds to describe the person to their group. They can’t use the person’s name in any form or point to them. If the group guess the name correctly, they win a point. The game ends when there are no more pieces of paper left. You might put all the names on the board and cross out these that have been guessed correctly to make it easier for your students to keep track of the game.
This game is usually lots of fun and a dynamic way to summon all the knowledge your students have about each other. It is also adaptable to different levels and ages.
I’d love to hear about your favourite end of term activities. What does your last class usually look like?