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Do not go gentle into that good night . . . .

Jean-Marie TaylorIt’s not my intent to turn today’s blog post into a literary analysis — and I shan’t! But as I look around me today, I am reminded that all things end . . . including this semester.

Can you believe that there is only one full week of classes left?

As faculty members, we tend to put a great deal of thought into how we will begin a course, but allow the “end” to take care of itself. Sometimes that works out beautifully; other times, it results in whimpering and limping to the finish line, or quietly and without fanfare, with students who are out the door before we’ve even had a chance to say, “Goodbye!”

This semester, why not wind up your course purposefully?

One of my favorite end-of-the-semester activities is to have current students write notes to the next semester’s students. I typically ask them to share tips they have that will help others (I tell them to imagine they are writing to their friends) be successful in the course. The tips are generally excellent ones!

At the beginning of the next semester, I choose a range of responses (some comments likely scare a few “I don’t want to work too hard” students) to include on a PowerPoint presentation that I have running itself when new students walk in on the first day of class. In addition to giving them “something to do,” it gives them a reason to interact with each other — and helps me to frame my class expectations later in the class session.

I’ve also had students share what they’ve learned, anonymously on note cards, and had other students read the cards out loud. Be prepared for some unexpected surprises!

I’ve even played baseball (sometimes for a few extra credit points) . . . complete with teams, a bat to hold at home plate, bases and lots of questions — singles (T/F); doubles (MC); triples (fill-in-the-blank or short answer); and home runs (long answer/explanations). Three outs and we go to the next half of the inning. It’s a little loud and chaotic, but a lot of fun . . . and helps students prepare for their final exam.

You could choose to thank each student as they leave the room for a specific contribution, or have students create mind map posters that illustrate what they’ve learned.

The number of options is as varied as the number of faculty members!

So, I invite you to “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” this semester — and to share your ideas for how you have (or will) wrap up your semester’s work with your students, or ideas for continuing to expand your course beyond that last day.

Have a wonderful end-of-semester!

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