Education insights

Wrapping up the first semester 

The last few days before a school break are challenging for teachers to navigate. With days or weeks of freedom on the near horizon, even the most devoted students start to feel their head space shifting to a more free-form, creative mode. That can heighten the energy in the classroom, fostering an unpredictable environment that can turn on a dime from cheerful engagement to irritation and disciplinary issues. 

So, as a teacher, how do you harness the heightened creative energy, rather than trying to fight against it? One way is to help students create an end-of-year presentation celebrating everything they’ve achieved in your class. 

What is an end-of-year presentation? 

Even if you aren’t a Spotify user, chances are you’ve seen your social media connections post their personalized Spotify Wrapped animation at the end of each year.  

The music streaming service leverages each user’s listening data to create customized animated videos displaying that user’s stats — such as the songs, artists, and genres they listened to most. In 2022, the service also showed users their “Listening Personality Type,” a music-related version of the Myers-Briggs personality types.  

Helping students create their own, personal lists about your class is a great way to tap into students’ excitement around the end of the year while reinforcing key concepts and celebrating their progress. Here’s how: 

1.Choose a template 

To get started, choose design and animation software. Adobe Express, Canva, and Microsoft PowerPoint are both great options.

Give students the opportunity to choose any free template they’d like or to start from scratch if there’s enough time. They can add animated transitions between slides or create a more static slide deck, depending on their skill level. 

If you have the time, it’s a great idea to create a presentation example for students using your own data — such as the number of papers graded, tests given, or concepts taught. 

2. Assign groups

To alleviate any anxiety students have about sharing their design skills or personal opinions, assign this project to small groups. If possible, ensure each group has a person who can serve as the lead designer, overseeing the visual elements of the project and manning the software. 

3. Define the topics

To give structure to students’ presentations, give them a list of slide topics to incorporate. A few topics might include: 

  • Something academic they’ve learned – Reinforce your material by requiring students to include a slide for each group member that shares an academic concept they’ve learned in your class.
  • Something quantifiable – Include 3-5 slides that quantify something they’ve experienced in class using actual data or estimates — or make up their numbers completely for comedic effect. Here are some examples:
    • Number of books read, number of hours spent on research, and number of minutes spent exercising/participating in team sports. Include some fun statistics such as number of snacks eaten, number of YouTube videos watched, and number of times the teacher has said their catch phrase.
  • Something they got better at – Celebrate progress by asking students to share something they improved on while in your class.
  • Favorite lesson – Give students the chance to reflect and relate by including a slide that shares their group’s favorite lesson of the year.
  • Something they’re thankful for – Whether it’s personal or academic, inspire groups to share gratitude for something they’ve experienced this semester.
  • A goal or something they’re looking forward to – Set students up to start thinking about the future by asking them to share something they’re looking forward to learning, experiencing, or doing in your class the next semester.
  • Multimedia – Encourage students to use photos and music throughout their presentation to add excitement and context.

4. Observe and guide as they work

Give students the freedom to reflect, explore, and experiment. Keep an eye on their progress using your LanSchool dashboard. If it seems like a group has gone off topic, send them a message to see whether they have any questions or whether they’ve become distracted. 

Creative ideas sometimes need time to fully develop, so it’s a good idea to schedule this activity to take place in short sessions over the course of multiple days. 

5. Ask students to present

Once the allotted time has been reached, ask groups to share their presentations with the class using LanSchool’s Broadcast Screen feature. Save everyone’s presentations in your class files to re-watch at the end of the school year. 

Don’t hibernate, celebrate

It can be tempting to avoid student engagement during the last few days before break by showing a movie, assigning work sheets or doing craft projects. Instead, help foster your students’ sense of celebration and set them up for a positive start to the year ahead.  

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