July 19, 2024

Izdaniya

Education, What Else?

15 ideas for digital end-of-semester final projects

6 min read

After months and months of learning, it all comes down to this. The end of the semester project. How can your students encapsulate the most important parts of the semester to demonstrate learning?

At the end of the semester, it’s easy to slip into “review for the test” mode.

Projects let students take what they’ve learned, put it all together and show off a little of their own creativity and personality.

And maybe, just maybe, that project may spark a passion that may stick with them for the rest of their lives.

End-of-semester final projects are cumulative

These projects are, in many ways, summative assessments.

We aren’t checking for fact recall from the latest activity. These cumulative activities pull from lessons learned throughout the whole semester — or year.

Some ideas for making end-of-semester projects as effective as possible:

  • Provide some thinking time. Let students probe their brains — and notes and other resources — for what stands out to them, what they remember. This is an assessment, after all. We want to see what stuck in their memories.
  • Avoid lots of whole-class review. Re-teaching lots and lots of content from the semester will make many students turn their attention switches to “off”. If these are independent projects, let them do their own independent review.
  • Give choice and personalization options. I’ve heard someone say that student projects where they all turn out exactly the same aren’t projects. They’re recipes. Giving students some choices in their projects — and letting their personalities shine through wherever possible — can be messy. But messy for you may be liberating for them. See this through the students’ eyes.
  • Prioritization is key. These projects, believe it or not, are exercises in curation and brevity. Students can’t include everything from the semester in these projects. They’re choosing carefully. Help them find the right subset of what they’ve learned — or summarize and choose from their pool of learning wisely.
  • Think about the audience. Who will get to see these projects? If the audience is larger than one person (the teacher), there’s a chance students’ motivation will be higher. Creating for an audience doesn’t mean sitting through an oral presentation by every student for three days. A digital gallery walk can be done in short order. Plus, not every student has to see every other student’s project.
  • Think about a higher purpose. In his book Drive, Dan Pink says there are three main drivers of motivation, according to science. Purpose — doing something bigger than yourself — is one. As you and your students think about these projects, think about how they can be done to benefit others. Your students have developed knowledge and skills that can benefit others. Connect with an organization — or an underserved population in your community. Sometimes, it can be a simple shift, like creating the project with a specific group in mind.

15 end-of-semester final project ideas

So, how can we pull a semester’s worth of learning together in one project?

Here are some ideas to use — or to spark your own creative ideas!

Screencast videos are an alternative to the traditional “talk in front of the class” presentations.

They’re efficient: students can create and view them independently.

They let students avoid the nerves of talking in front of the class and focus on presenting what they know and have learned.

(And if you want to go the “they have to get over their nerves and learn public speaking” route, that may be true, but also consider this. It’s likely NOT in your standards for kids to defeat their fears. And if their fears have an adverse effect on their grade despite being SOLID on their content knowledge, that may not be a fair way to assess.)

Screencast videos can take many forms:

Suggested tool:
Screencastify (Google Chrome) and the Flipgrid screencasting option (web browser)

Resources:

Creating a website can be pretty comprehensive. If you want your students to summarize everything on a single, attractive, multimedia-rich page, then some of these single-page web design tools may be a great option.

You can add text, links, images, videos and more.

Students can create custom images to add to their pages with tools like Google Drawings and Canva.

With many of these tools, they create fancy design features for you with no coding or web design experience necessary.

Suggested tool:
Adobe Spark Page or Genially.

Resources:

Podcasts are like on-demand radio shows you can download on your phone and listen to anywhere. The popularity and listenership of podcasts continues to grow. It’s an easy-to-access medium for information. You can consume podcasts while you exercise, garden, drive or commute.

Students can listen to podcasts. But they can also create them.

Many podcasts produce regular episodes on a schedule (daily, weekly, monthly, etc.). However, a special series of podcasts would be a great fit for an end-of-semester final project.

Students can plan the content. Divide it into episodes. Record episodes. Edit them to add sound effects and transition music. And, in some cases, produce the podcasts for the world to listen to.

Some tools (like Anchor) are made for broadcasting podcasts to the major platforms. Others (like Synth) are made for recording audio for classroom purposes — but can still be embedded in a class or student website. (Here’s an overview of how Synth works.)

Suggested tool: Anchor or Synth or Wakelet & Flipgrid

Resources:

Genius hour — or 20 percent time — encourages students to spend 20 percent of their class time pursuing something they’re passionate about. Educators have given students free rein or asked them to find something within the confines of their content that they’re passionate about.

This is less a project type (what to make) and more a project topic (what to talk about).

Giving students choice within the confines of the class standards can give them some independence and help them see themselves in the content.

Ask yourself: How can I give my students some freedom of choice while still accomplishing our objectives?

Suggested tool: Any of the tools mentioned here (or others!)

Resource: 20 percent projects: 7 ideas to think about

Curation is defined as “the action or process of selecting, organizing, and looking after the items in a collection or exhibition.”

The Internet is ever-growing. Our problem isn’t a lack of information or access. It’s trying to choose carefully from more resources than we could ever consume.

In short: curation is a valuable tool for the future.

Instead of creating, students could curate. They can gather the best resources from the web that represent what they’ve learned.

And after gathering them, they can annotate — write short descriptions of why these are good resources, why they represent what they’ve learned, how what they’ve learned fits. Those annotations help add a layer of critical thinking.

Suggested tool: Wakelet or Diigo

Resources:

Using this Applied Digital Skills lesson students will pick a topic and share information about it by creating an interactive presentation. The example presentation walks them through sharing about themselves and things they care about but students can use the same lesson but present on a topic they have learned about in class.

This lesson includes tutorial videos for students, an example project, rubric and a lesson plan. These Applied Digital Skills lessons can be assigned directly to Google Classroom.

Suggested tool: Google Slides 

Resources:

Sure our students know how to take a quiz but do they know how to make one? Creating good questions and writing those multiple choice answer options is a great way for them to dive into the content and look at it from a new perspective.  A fun way to get take this further is to take the multiple choice questions from different quizzes and create a class Kahoot.

Have students create short or long answer questions too and a simple rubric to go along with it. What would a 1 point answer look like? What about a 4 point answer? You might be surprised at how good their assessments would be!

Suggested tool: Google Forms and Kahoot

Resources:

Google’s CS first curriculum makes it easy to infuse computer science into any class. Like the Applied Digital  Skills curriculum, CS First has everything you need to get started right away with your class. Lessons include tutorial videos for students, example projects, lesson plans and a getting started guide.

In the Interactive Presentation activity students use a presentation they have already created (or make a new one) and make it interactive with Scratch. Students can take any final presentation from any unit and add this option as a way for students to present! Such an easy way to add coding to class.

Suggested tool: Google CS First/Scratch

Resources:

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