We're near the end of the year at my school. Our seniors are done and our junior physics students are climbing the walls. I've had the most success when I give them a project of some sort to do and lots of class time to work on it. Load them up with meaningful and fun work and there are a lot fewer headaches.
While taking a class in teaching with technology at the University of Detroit-Mercy I created a webpage as my final project. I use a part of the webpage with my junior physics students this time of year. The assignment I give the students is to create a presentation on some aspect of astronomy featuring cool pictures. Full instructions can be found at http://home.comcast.net/~mrdickie/astro_web/quest.htm. I also blogged about this a couple weeks ago. Just check out my entry on Digital Story Telling for a brief description of the software the students use for this project.
The main idea is to get them looking at and learning about some of the cool science being done in astro-physics today. Once all their presentations are done we share them with the class allowing students to learn from each other.
The final product is a narrated movie consisting of cool pictures and/or video clips found on the internet. The students must create their own script and record a voice over narration.
When the presentations are done I'll share some of the better examples. I can't really share last year's presentations as I didn't tell them not to include their full names in their narration or credits.