It’s the end of the school year! But, wait! You still have two weeks left to teach! Sometimes you have finals at the end of the year, so you’re reviewing for a test. Sometimes you have field trips and other fun days planned. However, there are those times when you just have a few days, a week, or even two weeks where you have students but you don’t have much to do!
When I taught AP French, the students actually took the test two weeks before the end of the year! We kind of considered that the end of their course, since really, that test was the culmination of many years of French. That doesn’t mean my administrator was okay with us doing nothing. So, what did we do? We made crêpes, watched a tv series that one of my students bought me on DVD (yes, in French), and made a survival guide for the younger kids. It was my only class of seniors, and it was bittersweet to say goodbye after years together, so I relished in every moment we had. I’m sure they appreciated the time, too, since they were busy taking AP tests for other classes during those two weeks!
Regardless of your situation, you’re sure to find yourself with extra time at some point, and it can be hard to find meaningful ways to use that time while being respectful of what your students need at the time. Here are some ways that I’ve used that time to do something fun yet worthwhile.
Do a community service project.
Students can help others while learning about associations in the area that provide relief to those in need. If you can tie it into your curriculum, that’s great! If not, maybe there is a French or Spanish non-profit in your area that would appreciate some help. Whether it’s running a food drive, volunteering somewhere, or cleaning up a local park, there are many ways for students to help others.
The last community service project I did with my class was collecting toiletries for a local organization that provided them not only to homeless shelters but also to food banks where families pick up necessary supplies. They are always at a shortage of things like soap, toothpaste, and diapers, because many of these items are not covered by any government subsidies and many families just cannot afford them.
How did it tie into our curriculum? We had just read L’Assassin de papa* by Malika Ferdjoukh, a book in which the main character was a homeless teenager who did not have access to regular showers and toiletries. As we discussed the boy’s living conditions, we decided we’d like to find a way to help others. With a little help from the internet, you can find organizations that help others and find the tie between the service and the learning objectives.
*If you’re looking for a good book to read with teens who are pretty fluent (older immersion kids or FSL students who have good reading fluency), I highly recommend this book. I taught it several times and the kids loved it!
Take a field trip.
Okay, I know not all schools will let you do that at the end of the year, but it doesn’t hurt to try! If you need to tie it to a curriculum, find a French restaurant where you can go have lunch and teach the students some conversation phrases that they need to use during the meal. Other great field trip ideas: visit a museum, a local university, or a historical neighborhood that might have some cultural sites to visit. You can have students write or present about it after the trip.
Put them to work.
Seriously! Have your students make a review game for next year’s incoming students. You can have them make board games, computer games, or anything else that will help your class review. I used to have my French 2 classes make review games for my advancing French 1 students. It helps them retain what they’ve learned from way back when, it’s collaborative and low-stress, and they loved creating games with their classmates.
Have them use their knowledge to guide younger students.
If you teach middle or high school, have your older students work together to make information packets for next incoming class. I used to have my graduating seniors make lists of survival skills for high school and I’d pass it out to my advisory class of freshmen at the beginning of the next year. If you teach middle school, you can still have your oldest group do this for the incoming class of 6th or 7th graders (or whatever grade middle school starts in your area).
An easy way to set this up is to group by category so that the task isn’t too overwhelming. Some categories we focused on were extra-curricular activities, people to turn to, what I wish I’d known, resources to use, and cool technology/apps for studying. Brainstorm with students and let them have some control. After all, they are the experts on what worked and didn’t work for them.
I know I talk about food a lot. What can I say? I love to eat! But seriously, if you have access to a kitchen, make some French food. Maybe you can swap classrooms with the cooking classroom for a day. If you don’t, have students find recipes online and bring in dishes from home. You can even have them each do a short presentation (graded, if you want) on the dish or the country of origin.
Want to make it even more fun and win some big points with parents and administration? Make a French restaurant in your classroom and invite families to come. Or you can do what Christèle M., one of my favorite French teachers, did and invite teachers and principals to the restaurant while students present the foods and serve them. How amazing is that? Kids will never forget that one, and your principal will LOVE it!
Visit a grade school.
Have a group of students visit a grade school and teach a short lesson in French. They could teach a song, read a book, perform a skit, present a French culture topic, or show off their conversation skills by teaching the little ones how to greet one another.
Find some new music.
If you’re familiar with how I teach, you know that I just love music for language acquisition. Not only is music an amazing way to teach culture, vocabulary, and verbs, but students love it! Want some new songs?
Make a commercial.
As a former immersion teacher, one of my favorite activities was during our persuasive writing unit. Students learned all about the different persuasion tactics, and we watched funny commercials I found online. Thank you Internet! Then, I brought in the most ridiculous items I had at home (which I will not list here so as to not poke fun at the manufacturers of said items). The students got into groups of 3 or 4 and had to create commercials persuading the audience to buy these items. If you can film the commercials, you can then have a watch party, which is just way too much fun! Bear in mind, the sillier the items, the more fun they will have!
Have any fun ideas for filling that spare time at the end of the year? Leave them here!