Quick, Reflective Activities for Finishing High School

While many of our students continue to be in the thick of AP exams, AP Literature is over to a certain extent. I only have 10 days with my seniors before exams and graduation. Friends of mine have until the end of June (bless all of you!). And while we will all continue to do meaningful work with our students, the class atmosphere changes with the exam being in the rearview mirror.

Most teachers I have spoken with assign a cumulative project ranging from TED Talks to independent reading to senior scrapbooks with several ideas discussed found in After the Exam or The Exam’s Over What Now?. The focus of this article, however, is quick yet reflective activities for seniors as the year is winding down to help them process the end of high school and continue to build community.



I love putting up black paper across the front of the room and turn it into a graffiti wall where students can draw or quote whatever they choose. Idea credit goes to Brian Sztabnik. Do you notice a that most of my ideas come from other people? I used to feel less than a teacher because all of my ideas came from other people, but after reading Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon, I feel empowered by using other people’s ideas.


Blackout Poetry

Speaking of Austin Kleon, blackout poetry is another meaningful activity for students to do if you have an extra 30 minutes one day. This is one of those trick lessons: students don’t realize that a lot of high-level thinking occurs while doing this because it’s so fun. My general level classes did this on Friday after our state exams and love the change of pace for the day.


Write a Letter to Your Future Self

This is another activity I do yearly and mail letters to students in five years. For added effect, my students write on the timed essay paper we practice on all year. I still laugh at a student a few years ago who put a $20 in his letter. 


Book Oscars

Have an Oscar party for characters in books. I create a Google form survey with categories such as Favorite Character to Hate, Best Scene, and Most Dysfunctional Family and have students submit answers. This is a fun way to revisit books we have read and an excuse to bring in food.

Commencement Speeches

For the next 10 days I will show a different commencement speech to my seniors; this has become a classroom tradition in Room 128. I think on the final day I will use Adrian Nester’s idea and write my own commencement speech to deliver to my AP Lit class. What Would You Tell a Graduate? from my personal site links to several of my favorite commencement speeches. 

Paper Plate Awards

Paper plate awards are a fun way to continue to build community until the very end of the year. Write everyone’s name on different plates, randomly pass out, and create an award for whoever you receive. I then collect and share to the class. I miss a few days each year for conferences which I realized at the end of the year my students just thought I wasn’t going to school; they thought this award was funny.

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How will you continue to build community while finishing the school year?