Wow.... and in some states they are keenly aware of every minute of instructional time being on task! Your interdisciplinary Court Project sounds great.
Two general ideas come to mind, one dealing with this year, the other dealing with next.
This year - have the students work on culminating project based lessons where they can show how they will use their new skills over the summer. Variation would be to have them show how their behavior has changed because of something they learned this year, and send it to their parents! have them create a "welcome" or "parent's open house" project to use in future years. Similar to the Court Project, have them put together three different fields into a project.
For next year - have the students start reading and studying next year's topic. How does it relate to what they know and use transfer of knowledge to get them started.
I don't know how I would handle this... I am one of those people that hate a moment of "down time">
You bring up a great point. Our Language Arts teachers seem frustrated with days after state testing is completed.
My school's science team considers the "month after testing" to be our best science month. We encourage students to explore activities in different science areas. We provide materials that allow students to do basic chemistry or physics and challenge students to see what they can discover. In the past two days, my favorite comment from a student was "I've loved this class all year - you should do even more activities like we've done this week!" (Stacey would be excited that each activity ended about five minutes of the class period - just enough time to discuss what was learned.)
In encouraging students this way, we are focusing their learning on "what would I like to know" and "how can I figure it out?" (Yes, that is the basis of great learning for all students in any subject.) Students who have a good experience with these activities are excited to take Chemistry or Physics.
I hope my team will consider the science court idea for future years.
I teach elementary (4th grade); my partner teacher and I are very excited when the STAAR test (state mandated standardized test here in Texas) is over near the end of April. We ramp up our Greek Mythology with our Greek Olympics (which we tie into athletics, academics, and theater arts), we finish up projects that had been ongoing (Texas Road Trip, Mythbusters, Wax Museum), continue with our science, math, and language lessons (without the test prep) and do some fun videos. In fact, we don't have time to do all the stuff we want to before the end of school. I know from experience and from other teachers that post-exam lessons for a good number of high school students consist of playing on iPhones and chillin' with classmates. I don't get it.