If you’ve ever worked in a middle school setting at the end of a school year, you know how chaotic behaviors can be. Kids are chatty, a bit mouthy, a whole lot of stinky, and perhaps the most bothersome of all – lazy. (Not to say we don’t love them, but the end of the year is rough, let’s be honest.)

The Perfect Storm

Middle schoolers are already a bit quirky, but when you add in nice weather, a splash of hormones (or a healthy pour), and growing independence, you’re left with a hot mess. And since testing is over (and sometimes even the grading period has closed), it’s even harder to hold their feet to the fire. 

Control the Chaos

If this situation sounds familiar, you know how exhausting those last few weeks can be. But what if you could get an upperhand on the end-of-year chaos? What if your classroom was a bit more Miss Honey and a lot less Miss Trunchbull? I’ve come up with a few different ways to maintain control of your class through the last day of school – and keep it engaging, too!

how to manage middle school students at the end of the year

Strategy #1 – Can You Guess Who I Am?

Can You Guess Who I Am? is a simple activity that you can end your class with. Kids LOVE it! 

Here’s what you do. At some point, a couple of weeks before the last day of school, take 5-10 minutes and have your students generate five statements about themselves that most other students may not know. Collect the responses, then wrap up the class each day by reading 2-3 random submissions. Students have until the 5th statement to guess who the student is. 

3 Reasons Why This Works:

  • Students will work hard if they know you’ll read a few of them at the end of class. Similarly, you may skip a day if behaviors don’t meet expectations.
  • Your hardest hitters will be dying for their turn to be in the spotlight. Buy yourself some time, and tuck theirs away for that last week. 
  • You’ll learn something new about one another, and you might be surprised at last-minute connections!

I’ve included a set of downloadable “Can You Guess Who I Am?” Google Slides at the end of this post. Don’t miss it!

fun activities for the end of the year middle school

Strategy #2 – Finish with a Scary Story Playlist

Normally I teach The Landlady, The Elevator, The Monkey’s Paw, and The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street in October. I mean, it’s Halloween. But the first year I discovered these stories, I did them at the end of the year. If you haven’t already taught these stories, ending the year with them works really well for keeping your kids purposefully engaged! Kids also love escape rooms, and luckily I have an escape room for each of these stories. Read & discuss the story at the beginning of the week and finish the week with an escape task.

3 Reasons Why This Works:

  • Kids will quiet down with ease once they’re sucked into a spooky story. 
  • You can teach it remotely if needed.
  • Working towards a spooky escape room will help curb some of the end-of-year laziness.
story for middle school language arts end of year

Strategy #3 – {Purposeful} Viewing with Fact or Fiction

If you can’t use the short stories listed above, another fun activity is incorporating Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction episodes and having quick debate face-offs. If you’ve never watched Fact or Fiction, here’s what you can expect. Each episode has four mini-stories. The mini-stories are about 7-minutes long. Each episode contains two stories that are fact and two stories that are fiction. The answers aren’t revealed until the end of the episode. Play a 7-minute story and pause the episode. Give students a couple of minutes of think time to determine whether they think the story is fact or fiction. This might be silent think time or you might let them discuss in small groups. Then, have two students face off. One who believes it’s fact and one who believes it’s fiction. I require them to present their case in C-E-R format. After both sides have presented, skip to the end of the episode and reveal the answer. 

A few of my favorite episodes: 

  • Season 3 Episode 1: Blood Bank (Save this one for last!)
  • Season 2 Episode 2: The Wallet
  • Season 2 Episode 11: The Scoop

And of course, here’s why it works:

  • This can occupy as little as 15 minutes of class or as much as 45 minutes. 
  • You can squeeze it in on weird days, like locker clean-out day or retesting days.
  • Have I mentioned that kids quiet down when they’re sucked into a spooky story?

If you have Amazon Prime, you can find the episodes under Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction.

end of year lesson plans for middle school

Strategy #4 – Listen to a Terrifying Podcast

Can you tell I love to incorporate suspense in the classroom? ?

If you want something hands-off but can’t show Fact or Fiction episodes, try a podcast. I personally like The Creeping Hour. There are five short (15:00) episodes that offer the “just-right” amount of spook for 6th grade.

I like to use these listening sheets with the podcast. On side 1, students illustrate a scene from the podcast or search for words from the episode. On side 2, students answer a couple of standards-based questions about the episode, then choose one chilling prompt to respond to.

A word of warning: the first episode is the best, so you may want to start with episode 5 and work your way back!

Here’s why it works:

  • This can occupy as little as 30 minutes of class or as much as 60 minutes. 
  • It’s perfect for the last couple weeks of school or spread throughout the year!
  • Kids will be excited to come to class each day to finish the podcast. (That is if you can keep them from listening to it at home ?)

Find the podcast here.

Keeping the Chaos Under Control

Finishing out the year with middle-schoolers doesn’t have to be all that bad. Throw in a few scary stories or {controlled} interactive activities and you’ll see a world of difference. 

Grab Your Free Set of “Can You Guess Who I Am” Slides

You can grab your own ready-to-use set of “Can You Guess Who I Am” slides by signing up for my newsletter below. I’d love to hear your strategies for keeping kids engaged through the last day. Leave a comment below or find me on FB or IG and let’s continue the conversation!