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5 Tips for Combating Senioritis in your Science Classroom

Combating Senioritis: 5 tips for battling senioritis and spring fever, even if youor students aren't seniors

It’s that time of year. The weather starts changing, the days start getting longer, and your students start becoming absolutely stir crazy. Some call it spring fever – I call it senioritis. And regardless of if you teach seniors or not, this “disease” does not discriminate based on student age (although seniors seem to be the MOST affected – if you’ve ever taught seniors, once they receive college acceptance letters, it is borderline game over).

And if I am perfectly honest…it hits me as well. I am just as antsy as they are for spring break and warmer days not spent inside the classroom. So if WE ourselves are struggling with this, how are we as secondary science teachers to best be combating senioritis in our students?

In my experience, the worst thing you can do is to ignore it and keep pressing on as you always have. Acknowledge the energy amongst your students and make some simple changes to make the end of the year better for both you AND your students!!

But how??

Here are my 5 best tips for combating senioritis and keeping your students engaged and learning until the very end of the year!

Combating Senioritis Tip #1: Get OUTSIDE!

Combating Senioritis Tip 1: Get outside.

It really is that simple – get your students outside!! It is AMAZING what a little fresh air and vitamin D can do for your students’ (and your!) moods.

You don’t need to design an elaborate outdoor ecological investigation. Simply invest in a class set of clipboards (you will get back your return year after year on these!!) and take whatever it is you would normally be doing outside. Even if your students are just doing practice problems on the bleachers, the change in scenery will do wonders for you and your students!

Best of all, you don’t need to plan in advance for this as long as you have clipboards! Read the room. Are your students extremely distracted, overly chatty, or disturbingly lethargic one day? Is it above 50 degrees and not raining? If you answered yes to both of these questions, drop what you are doing and get your class outside!! The change of scenery is an absolute game-changer for turning around the mood of the class.

I 10/10 recommend doing this on Fridays especially. This tip increases in effectiveness tenfold when implemented before a weekend.

Combating Senioritis Tip #2: Change up lecture!

Combating Senioritis Tip 2: Change up lecture.

Like I said before, the worst thing you can do when combating senioritis is to continue doing the same old same old. Your students’ energy and focus have entirely changed, and thus we need to change ours in order to keep them engaged.

One of the BIG ways you can do that is by changing up how you lecture! I first recommend decreasing your lecture time as much as you can. Nothing makes senioritis flare up more than an elongated lecture. This is one of the reasons I started creating Discovery Stations for my anatomy class (you can read more about how I use these to decrease lecture here!!)

I love how stations not only decrease lecture time but get students out of their seats and moving. One of the best treatments for senioritis is increased blood flow, caused by movement 😉

I don’t think lecture has to be entirely eliminated though! Instead, just try switching up how you do it. Here are my four best tips to make lectures engaging in your secondary science classroom!

Combating Senioritis Tip #3: Shift to all student-centered.

Combating Senioritis Tip 3: Shift to ALL student-centered.

As much as you can, change up your instructional strategies to make them as student-centered as you possibly can. The last thing you want to do when combating senioritis is be fighting students for their attention. Instead, just completely give up on it and put the attention and focus back on the students!

Not sure how? Here are 4 of my favorite no-prep student-centered activities.

Worried that this will require energy on your end that you don’t have? I totally get that. This time of year I am often dragging and suffering from senioritis as much as the seniors in my AP biology class are. You can still engage your students in your science courses without exhausting yourself with hours of lab prep (although I do think labs help make the days more fun to end the year!) Here are my 5 favorite ways to engage students without exhausting yourself.

Combating Senioritis Tip #4: End the year with independent research projects.

Combating Senioritis Tip 4: End the year with independent research projects.

Want to REALLY take the responsibility of learning out of your hands, while simultaneously engaging your students in a research project that both challenges their thinking and strengthens their research and writing skills? Implement an independent research project to end the year!

I designed long-term independent research projects for my biology, anatomy, and physical science students, but these could easily be adapted to be done over a shorter time frame if you are implementing over the course of a few months or weeks. I love these because students can select their own driving question that they are most interested in and research it. And the more student choice you can provide, the better your chances at combating senioritis.

Interested in learning more about implementing a PBL (project-based learning) style project to end your school year? Check out this blog post here!

Combating Senioritis Tip #5: Save the BEST for last.

Combating Senioritis Tip 5: Save the best for last.

Last but not least, save the BEST content to teach last. I share this as my final tip because I know for many of you if you are reading this come spring, you don’t have much of a choice content-wise with what you teach your students for the remainder of the year. However, this is the PERFECT time to reevaluate your scope and sequence for NEXT school year to set yourself up for success with combatting senioritis.

I purposefully save my favorite units for the end of the year. If MY energy is high, my students’ energy will reflect that, too. This is one of the main reasons I switched to teaching micro –> macro in biology. I wanted to end the year teaching ecology so I could do all of my favorite labs and projects with them when they were the least engaged. You can read more about my biology scope and sequence here.

In anatomy, I purposefully save reproduction for the end of the year. Nothing will keep a bunch of juniors and seniors engaged like talking about penises, ovaries, erections, and sperm – amiright? Plus I find that there is a culture and rapport with my students at the end of the year that doesn’t exist starting out, making this a much easier topic to teach to them at this time.

They have a disturbing amount of questions (I say disturbing because it truly is wild how little they REALLY know about reproduction) and it makes our class periods incredibly engaging until the very last day! You can check out my reproduction unit here and read more about my anatomy scope and sequence here.

In physical science, I like to end the year with reactions because there are so many fun demos to do with students, but if I am honest, there are really a ton of great physical science units you can save for the end! You can read more about why I chose my physical science scope and sequence here.

I hope these tips help you with combating senioritis this year and setting yourself up well in the future for years and years of senioritis, I don’t think this disease will be going away in our students anytime soon.

What are some of your favorite ways to combat senioritis and spring fever in your students (and yourself)? I would LOVE to hear from you. You can reach out and tell me here!

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