Tips to Stop Summer Slide
1. Stay in Touch with Students
It doesn’t even have to be on academic terms. Staying in touch with your students can help them in a variety of ways, from learning to continue professional relationships, to offering advice and resources in a pinch, to stabilizing the lives of some students that need it most. [Most students have school assigned email addresses now by 3rd or 4th grade or you have their parents’ email addresses. It’s not too late to reach out if the school year is almost over or you’re already lounging by a pool with your classroom packed up for the summer].
2. Send Them Home With Books and Magazines
On the last day of school, send students home with free books, magazines, or anything you think there might be the slightest chance that they’ll read.
If you’ve got certain students who really, really need to keep their literacy skills fresh — and if you’re worried that they may not accept your gift of free magazines — create individual bundles for students. Personalize them based on content (automotive or sports car magazines, for example), or form (comic books, short stories, etc.).
You can also invite them back to class after other students have left, or even call home to arrange a pickup or drop-off.
3. Meet Students at Their Local Library
Pick one day a month to meet students at a library that’s local to them. Even if you have to pick three or four libraries to get to everyone, if you spend 90 minutes at each, you’re still only talking about one afternoon a month. You can use this time to meet with students from last year, or get to know students from next year’s class.
What should you do? Literary scavenger hunt. Young authors’ meeting. Poetry hour. So many options!
4. Start a Reading Program
Whether it’s a contest, a book exchange, or a team-based competition; whether or not it uses points, has prizes, or is just for pride; whether it’s physical or digital — however you do it, create even a very basic program that will make students feel compelled to read during the summer.
Let them know that their reading is valued, and that it matters outside the classroom.
5. Start a Digital Book Club
Speaking of reading programs and book clubs, digital reading is now more accessible than ever thanks to free eBooks, less expensive eReaders, and more powerful smartphones. Even two- or three-year-old smartphones can handle most current reading apps, such as Kindle’s reader.
You can create a basic blog or Pinterest page, for example, and curate trending books that your students might like, or interesting free eBooks that they may not otherwise consider. Figure out a way to start a digital conversation about a digital book they can read anywhere, and you’re on to something!
6. Encourage Students to Blog
As important as reading is, writing is just as important. While you’d certainly want to limit academic writing in the summer, blogging is incredibly flexible. It can be about any topic using any form with any number of embeddable digital artifacts. It can be about pop culture, music, shopping, friendship, technology, video games — whatever interests the student.
7. Frame Simple Ongoing Projects
Give students ongoing projects — blogs to keep up, businesses to run, art portfolios to maintain, stories to write, community projects to be a part of. Anything will work if it keeps them feeling valued and plugged in.
8. Hand-Pick MOOCs
If you want more than reading and writing, there are hundreds of quality eLearning courses from dozens of credible sources to keep students busy. And while you may be concerned with “letting kids be kids” during the summer, most MOOCs that I’ve seen have, at most, weekly assignments. These could be finished — or modified to be finished — in an hour or two per week.
Please add your ideas to this list in the comments section below.