5 Ways to Make the Most Out of the Last Few Days of School

Audience: 6–12th Grade

The school year is almost over, and testing and finals are done. However, school treks on even if it may seem directionless. So let’s talk about what you can do to make the last few days meaningful to the students. Here are 5 ideas (mostly using technology) to prepare your students for life outside of school and assist them on their personal academic and professional journey. Ideas include coding, building resumes, portfolios and college planning. These activities allow students to see what they have accomplished in a larger context outside the classroom and provide support so they can make long term decisions and create experience to get jobs, internships and scholarships.

1. Experience Coding

CS Ed Week is officially in December, but anytime is the perfect time to enhance your coding skills. The CS ED Week website (https://csedweek.org/learn) offers amazing tutorials and gives access to programs that are out there for people to learn on their own. Even if your students have already tried one of the tutorials, there are still so many more to check out. Have your students considered a career in Computer Science/ STEM? Could it be because they have not had much exposure to even give it a thought?

How to Get Started:

  • Go to: https://csedweek.org/learn and use the filtering on the left to find the perfect option for you or your class. Not everyone needs to do the same tutorial. There are also some unplugged activities if devices and wifi are not available.
  • The final coding outcomes are perfect material for a student to add to their digital portfolio so think about saving images or embedding the code if it is available.

Suggested activities:

  • Made With Code (https://www.madewithcode.com) — downloadable images and tons of creativity
  • VidCode — cool tutorials to make videos, greeting cards and more
  • CS First — Start a project in Scratch under your own account and return to the projects on your own time.

2. Search Collegeboard for Careers and Majors

Students often decide that they want to go to their local big school without considering majors, cost, or admission requirements. Explore Big Future on the Collegeboard website for major and career matching as well as a look into the requirements to get into specific schools. Remind students that the best school to attend is not the most prestigious school out there but a school that meets the needs of an individual student. This may be the first time students really look at what it takes to get into college and if you are doing this with 8th, 9th, and 10th graders it can make a real difference because admission requirements and cost are no joke.

How To Get Started:

  • Go to Big Future on Collegeboard > Explore Careers > Career and Major Search (https://bigfuture.collegeboard.org/majors-careers)
  • Students can start in either career or major column — clicking on a career will lead to links for possible college majors and clicking on majors will lead to an explanation of possible careers.
  • Once students have a major in mind they can search colleges with that major and then narrow down selections based on cost, test scores, location, diversity, housing and more.
  • If a student has no idea where to start check out the road map from Roadtrip Nation (https://roadtripnation.com/roadmap). Students can create their own roadmap and then listen to interviews of people who followed a similar path (This is a great whole class exercise as well).
  • The need for computer science skills is growing (estimted 1million jobs more than CS students in 2020). Check out this one sheet about computing majors.
  • Students can use this worksheet to track what they find on college board.

3. Create Digital Portfolios

Digital portfolios are a proactive way to document learning and creates a digital footprint to archive student achievement. Digital portfolios are easy to edit, update, and versatile enough to carry meaning outside of school and into the world. Students can use the portfolio as a device to help get internships, scholarships, jobs and more. Students add resumes, letters of recommendation and work samples of embedded projects and images along with a reflection so it captures the student experience and explains transferable skills for future work.

How to Get Started:

  • Possible free sites to use include wix.com, weebly,com and pathbrite.com. They are drag and drop with easy customizable pages and themes to adapt and change to fit personality and professional audience.
  • Check out portfolio examples, blog to create portfolio in Weebly and critical tips for building a better portfolio
  • Pages to include: About Me, Resume, Work Samples — use sub pages to navigate projects. Projects can be classwork, presentations or anything that showcases you in the best possible light. Each sample should include image and/or link, a title, brief description, and a reflection about what you have learned or challenges you faced.
  • Other pages to include: Community service, media, expertise, contact

4. Create/Update Resumes

Resumes are deceptively difficult documents to create. They are succinct and have to be clearly formatted and easy to understand. This takes time, experience, and iterations of updates and redesign. Take the time in class to get students started on their resume as a group activity so students can learn from each other and create something meaningful that they can use outside of school. Most of your students may not have much beyond what they have accomplished in school to add to the resume. The worst time to work on your resume is just before you are trying to get a job or snag an interview so this is the perfect time to get students started on a professional resume now, while they are in class and then the school can continue to remind them to update it next year.

How to Get Started:

  • Go to Google Docs (docs.google.com) to find templates — creating the resume in the cloud makes it easy to find and update at a moment’s notice.
  • Rename the document FirstNameLastNameResume — if you are mailing a resume to others it is always helpful to have your name attached
  • The template will lay out what to include. Remember resumes are short, concise and not written in complete sentences.
  • Add the resume to the digital portfolio!

For added support:

5. Watch Hidden Figures with your class and use this discussion curriculum.

Of course watching a movie the last week of school is an old standby but we can raise it up a notch with this inspiring movie. Students who have seen this movie have written letters to say “now I know I can do anything I put my mind to with hard work.”

A few other ideas include: Learn to fill out a job application, Financial Literacy lessons, or write letters of recommendations. What ideas do you have to make the most of the end of the school year?