10 End of the Year ELA Activities for Middle School

10 End of the Year ELA Activities for Middle School

The end of the school year should be like ending a race, a climactic event full of cheers. Once you’re in the home stretch, navigating this difficult yet very rewarding period of the school year presents a unique challenge. There’s no tired like end-of-the-year “teacher tired”, but planning the end of the school year activities for middle school also gives room for teachers to experiment with something new. 

Teaching middle school takes a lot of time, effort, and thought. If you teach English Language Arts (ELA), it can be tempting to resort to a final book report project, but this is the perfect time to integrate climate change-related content into your classroom! End of the year activities are more likely to be well-received by students when elements of fun and creativity are added. Here are 10 epic end of the year ELA activities for middle school about climate change that your students will surely love.

What's So Funny about Climate Change? Editorial Cartoon Opinions

Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects: Science, English Language Arts, Art

Resource Type: Lesson Plan

I think we can all agree that climate change is not a laughing matter, but that doesn’t mean teaching about it can’t be fun. This unique media literacy and critical thinking activity asks students to analyze six editorial cartoons that present varying views about climate change and climate change denial. This activity is likely to spark a lively discussion.

The lesson plan offers many possible variations, depending on your focus, and includes different messages from various sources.  For example, ELA middle school teachers can use the resource to accompany a persuasive writing activity.  Editorial cartoons are also ideal for social studies teachers to introduce current events to students. After your students analyze the conflicting points of view, they can create their own editorial cartoons about climate change.  This is a perfect end of the year ELA activity for middle school since students learn to question their own biases and learn how humor can be used as a persuasive tool. 

The worksheet asks students about the reliability of the sources they are given, so teachers may need to provide additional instruction on how to determine reliability. It's highly recommended that teachers familiarize themselves with the materials before teaching this lesson to understand the goals of the lesson and its design. ELA teachers can reinforce critical literacy skills as middle school students evaluate editorial cartoons for their meaning, message, and persuasiveness.  Editorial cartoons can also be a rich source of commentary for middle school and high school students. The minimal use of words in editorial cartoons enables struggling readers to better understand complex ideas and controversial issues.

Personal Narrative: Chiamaka Obilo

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Civics, Justice, Health

Resource Type: Lesson Plan

This inspiring resource features Chiamaka Obilo’s speech at a climate rally in Boston. She speaks passionately about her personal health challenges, pollution, supporting science, participating in activism, and the importance of climate education. The accompanying lesson plan includes a student worksheet, a guide for hosting a climate strike or event, and a personal narrative writing assignment.

The resource provides a powerful stand-alone video that can spark discussion about the importance of personal narratives in civic action and politics. Students will be able to identify with Obilo as they work on their narrative writing assignment. Helping students to find their own voice through writing makes this resource a fun end of the year ELA activity for middle school students, and giving students a voice makes them feel more empowered to take a stand against climate change.

This video could be used as a hook for lessons about personal responsibility, the importance of participation in a democracy, freedom of speech, or the role of government in representing the interests of the constituents. The personal narrative assignment in the lesson plan could be used in ELA classes and social studies classes to further inspire student engagement in climate discussions.

Write Your Member Of Congress

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: Social Studies, Civics, English Language Arts, Justice, Climate Action

Resource Type: Activity

Writing a letter to a politician is about as “civic” an assignment as we can do within our classroom walls in order to promote student engagement in climate change. This resource provides students an opportunity to learn how to write to Congress. The 2-minute video provides detailed instructions on how to gather supporting information and engage with legislators to enact positive change. It also highlights the importance of how laws are driven by the people. Persuasive civic writing requires students to study the facts and use their knowledge and values to formulate a position. This is a fun end of the year ELA middle school activity since it helps students explore how certain issues affect their lives. Your students may also be in for an exciting surprise if their representative responds to their letter. 

Making the voices of students heard sends the message that their opinion matters. This resource empowers students to engage in the process of petitioning their government to enact change in our laws. This is also a wonderful opportunity for future voters to exercise civic responsibility. This resource can be simplified for younger grades or it can be used as an exercise to construct and evaluate explanations and arguments using multiple sources and relevant, verified information in higher grades.  Since letters have to be concise, ELA teachers can help students practice selecting relevant facts to include, as well as using appropriate voice and tone. To further develop their writing skills, when students complete their first draft, allow them to edit a letter from a peer. This will help them to learn about a different issue or a different perspective while also practicing how to edit. 

Globalization and the Environment

Grade: 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Biology, Economics, History, English Language Arts, Justice

Resource Type: Lesson Plan

The classic dilemma between environment versus development has always been a prominent issue when it comes to climate change discussions. This OER Project course about the connections between globalization and the environment explains the causes of environmental change over recent centuries, how changes to the environment affect different groups of people, how resource competition and depletion can cause conflicts, and what the world might be like in 2050. 

This comprehensive resource does a great job of summarizing information, activating prior knowledge, helping students think critically, and allowing students to work on their writing skills with a self-assessment writing rubric. The graphic biography included is an excellent way to introduce the impact of development on Indigenous communities. The wealth of activities provided in this resource makes this a fun end of the year ELA activity for middle school since it encourages students to imagine a more sustainable future not only for themselves but for the environment as well. 

This cross-curricular resource can be applied to economics, geography, and civics as well as ELA. Depending on the student’s level, this resource can be utilized for effective vocabulary-building, summarizing, and guided reading. Students can also deepen their understanding of the topics covered through research and discussion.

A Kid's Guide to Climate Change

Grade: 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Social-Emotional Learning

Resource Type: Article

Let’s be honest, if you want to hook your most reluctant readers, comics, graphic novels, or manga are your best bet! This short comic book from NPR’s Life Kit tells the story of a young person in Colorado who becomes interested in climate activism after seeing how his own community is affected by climate change. The character learns about the causes of climate change and what he and other youth can do about it. Students will learn ways they can cope with anxiety and overwhelming feelings surrounding climate change and how to become climate activists in their own communities.

This relatable comic does a good job of combining the science behind climate change with a simple narrative story. With plenty of easy-to-understand visuals and easy-to-read dialogue, this comic would be great to use in classes with ELL students, students with varying reading levels, and visual learners. Teachers can have students read the comic online or provide students with paper copies of the printable version of the comic. 

After students read the story, have students work in small groups to locate the scientific facts in the comic. Ask students to think about whether the comic is fiction or nonfiction. Once they have come to a conclusion, have the groups present their case to the class and then have a class discussion about how some genres of fiction can relay historical or scientific information even though the story itself might be made up.

Teaching About Climate Change: Why Does the Source Matter?

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, English Language Arts, Social-Emotional Learning

Resource Type: Lesson Plan

Effectively navigating news and information through a critical lens is an essential skill for students in an increasingly online and digital world. In this media literacy activity, students analyze two letters; one from the National Science Teachers Association, and one from the Heartland Institute, for conflicting perspectives about how to teach global climate change. 

This lesson plan offers many possible variations depending on your focus, such as evaluating the reliability of a given source. This is a fun end of the year ELA activity because  the resource gives middle school students the tools that teach them not what to read and consume, but rather how to examine information so that they can make more informed decisions. Teachers can guide students in creating a checklist of criteria to evaluate the viewpoints and biases in both letters. Once they have created their checklists, ask them to use the checklists to find and vet three articles, videos, or websites about climate change.

Sea Level Rise: Climate Change Impacts

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th

Subjects: Science, English Language Arts, Art

Resource Type: Lesson Plan

Sea level rise is one of the most severe impacts of climate change threatening island nations and coastal areas. Sea level is also an important measure of how fast our planet is changing. In this activity, students will look critically at web content and videos from The Guardian, The International Forecaster, and The Climate Institute, about the impacts of sea level rise due to melting polar ice and glaciers.

The dataset used in this activity fits modeling future climate projections and scenarios. This resource can engage students on how to manage data, analyze, determine the factors that contribute to climate change, and compute estimates for future climate change impacts on human settlement, sea level rise, and other weather events.  The videos included in the resource document in stark and vivid detail what future sea level rise would actually look like. This is an engaging end of the year ELA activity for middle school because students analyze real sea level data and draw their own conclusions.

This resource can be used for a structured reading process to help students. Students can also respond to questions individually and in small groups before discussing them as a whole class.  ELA teachers can also utilize this resource to introduce how cause-and-effect relationships are routinely identified, tested, and used to explain sea level rise.

Why Are Whales in Trouble — Again?

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th

Subjects: Science, Biology, Earth and Space Sciences, English Language Arts, World Languages

Resource Type: Assessement

In this scientific paper, which is adapted to make it more approachable for middle school students, students learn about declining whale populations. The article explains why whales are important to ocean ecosystems and how researchers used physical and observational data to determine the connections between climate change and changes in the North Atlantic Right Whale population over time. Students will read an adapted scientific article about the research, answer relevant questions, and watch three short videos about whale populations and the effects of climate change on whales.

Teachers will appreciate that the resource includes an audio version of the paper, a link to the original paper, and a video describing the resources available on the website, making it easy to adapt to the lesson for different types of learners. The resource also includes a teacher’s key and a glossary of terms. This is a great resource for independent work. Students can read or listen to the article, watch the videos, and answer the comprehension questions at their own pace. After the class has completed the reading, have students share their ideas for developing an energy conservation plan for the school. Work as a class to come up with a proposal to present to stakeholders. 

The Anthropocene

Grade: 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College

Subjects: Science, Social Studies, Biology, History, English Language Arts

Resource Type: Lesson Plan

Human activity has had an enormous impact on the Earth, so much so that some scientists are now referring to our current time period as the Anthropocene. This OER Project course discusses the reasons why some scientists see the Anthropocene as a new epoch, due to the overwhelming effects humans have had on the biosphere over the last 250 years. 

This complete resource  provides practice for summarizing information, activating prior knowledge, and critical thinking. Students can also test their knowledge at the end of the course with the interactive assessment to further allow them to work on their reading and writing skills. Aside from being used as a vocabulary-building exercise for ELA, this resource also gives students a chance to practice their science reading skills as they navigate the nonfiction texts. The resource outlines the rising complexity in the Anthropocene and compares this with the Holocene epoch. Students can gain deep insights by comparing these geologic periods. ELA teachers can also use the resource to help students determine the central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details. 

Climate Summit

Grade: 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th

Subjects: English Language Arts, Climate Action

Resource Type: Activitity

What better way to end the year on a high note than with a climate summit? This resource provides step-by-step instructions for planning a climate summit that brings awareness about the causes of climate change and the solutions required to address it. It is a perfect culminating activity for the whole class. The resource provides suggestions for summit topics, as well as adaptable and easy-to-follow instructions for planning and conducting a summit of any size. This is a great way to get your students to engage with students in different grades as well as the larger community.

Teachers can decide on the scale of this activity since it can be done by a class or a school club.  Student engagement in the various steps such as planning, presenting, and promoting the event provides opportunities for cross-curricular connections including language arts, math, and social studies. Teachers can promote collaboration as students work in groups to accomplish the many tasks required.

End of the year activities are an excellent opportunity to leave a lasting impact on our students. Discussions about climate change are not always easy to lead, but they are important.  These resources provide teachers with the tools to start those conversations. When teachers help children understand the climate crisis unfolding around them and prepare them to take action, it can have a lingering impact on the way students view their futures. Taking the time to remember, reflect, and reinforce the importance of championing climate change education is always a worthy way to end the school year with a bang.

About the Author

Krista Nido currently lives in South Burlington, Vermont. She has over 6 years of teaching, mostly elementary and middle school students. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education and a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and Higher Education. She loves writing as much as teaching. She likes to cook in her free time and is passionate about food waste and its impact on climate change.