The Last Day

The last day of class always brings this sense of letting go of a big breath of air that has been held in, and yet it is ever bittersweet at the same time.

So many emotions and thoughts about where we’ve been and where we are headed next.  I put a lot of emphasis into the last day of class simply because I hope to provide a reflective experience for my students as they move on from this class.  How can that be done most effectively?

last days of summer 090 by khumana, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 Generic License  image by  khumana 

A few strategies I use are:

  • Final “exit” survey – this is a two-sided sheet with about 10-12 questions that ask students questions such as:
  • what were the three most important ideas/concepts/skills that you learned?
  • what helped you learn?
  • would you recommend this class to a close friend? why?
  • please write some words for a future student in this class
  • Class awards – students really enjoy these!  Awards can include anything from ‘most improved’ to ‘best listener’.
  • Concept map brainstorm – I bring a list of all the topics we learned throughout the course and students discuss how they are all connected. What did students learn? What was challenging? How will they use it in the future?
  • Group topics – similar to the concept map brainstorm, I will put students in their teams (these are the same teams they have had all semester) and give each team a course topic. They will take their assigned topic and describe what they learned and how they can apply it in the future.
  • Potluck celebration – I always ask the class if they want to include a party on the last day. Not once have students declined!  This semester they want to have a potluck dance party; let’s see how the classes down the hall take this 😉
  • Speech 1 through Speech 4 – in my public speaking class, I ask student teams to discuss the major assignments in the class in relation to what they’ve learned. Specifically, they look at what they did well with each, and what was most challenging.

No matter what strategy you use, this is an opportunity to not only reflect and wrap-up the class as it comes to a close, but also send the message to your students that the journey is not over. And really, it is never over because learning is continuous.

References:

The Last Class: A Critical Course Component

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