Ways to Avoid...Summer Slide

02 May 2016

We've helped our students learn... 
responsibility with homework completion
how to be a friend
math operations and problem solving 
to read fluently with expression and to make deep meaning
and... so...much...more. 
and then...summer begins...

Let's talk about...Summer Slide.

Summer is approaching, and for many students, it means summer learning loss. Check out this post on Virginia is for Teachers to learn about five simple ideas you can do NOW to help your students avoid summer learning loss.

In the 25 years I've been teaching, I've observed so many of our kiddos peak in May and when come September, they've dropped back to where they were in March. It is so discouraging, and if only we could keep them learning through the summer, it could all be avoided. So just what do we do to keep kids motivated?  Well, our team did some brainstorming, and we came up with a few options that have helped our kids and may help yours too.

1) Summer Reading Camp for Primary
Summer is approaching, and for many students, it means summer learning loss. Check out this post on Virginia is for Teachers to learn about five simple ideas you can do NOW to help your students avoid summer learning loss.The planning for our summer reading camp begins around this time of year, and we focus on our youngest readers with the hope that this emphasis on reading fluency, word study, and independent reading will keep our kids at least maintaining through the summer months.. We work together to select the students (using our test data) and generate a letter/invitation to come to our program. The three week camp runs in July in conjunction with other summer schools (and we do this because bus drivers are readily available), and we have the parents commit to a minimum of two weeks. Since the camp is Monday through Thursday from 8:30-11:30 with bus transportation provided, most are thrilled to have their kids come. We have preferred running our camp versus using summer school because the groups are kept small and focused. We're also working on reading attitudes, so the camp atmosphere keeps it light and fun for them.

Summer is approaching, and for many students, it means summer learning loss. Check out this post on Virginia is for Teachers to learn about five simple ideas you can do NOW to help your students avoid summer learning loss.
With the camp, we used a thematic approach by choosing topics we know the kids would enjoy. The topics have included weather, creepy crawlies, transportation, space, ocean animals, and bats versus birds. Each day we've included experiences with reading, writing, word work, poetry, and math as well as library checkout.  This cohesive plan has kept the focus on academics, but yet, the kids really haven't notice it. They were too busy having fun. For many of them, the alternative would have been being home just hanging out, so they have been really eager to come.


2) Summer Reading Incentives
In past years, I've prepared summer reading incentive packets for my students and rewarded those who completed them and returned them. This was met with fair success, and the kids were certainly happy to receive prizes. For some, the work was done with a parent and done well. For some, it was done independently without much detail, so this option works for some.

One thing that we included in our packets that the kids found fun was a page like the National Parks Junior Ranger program where the kids collected signatures from each museum, tourism site, or library visit they enjoyed. We were especially looking for library visits figuring that each visit meant they were reading more, and we gave a prize to the child with the most.

If funding in your district is tight, summer reading packets may be your best option.

3) Take Home Books OR Gus the Bus
Summer is approaching, and for many students, it means summer learning loss. Check out this post on Virginia is for Teachers to learn about five simple ideas you can do NOW to help your students avoid summer learning loss.During the school year, our division has Gus the Bus, a traveling bus that brings books and learning centers to preschoolers and their parents right in their neighborhood. This program has been so successful in other communities, and if you have people willing to go into the community with books kids can borrow, it is a great way to get them reading. For many parents, getting to the public library is tough because they work during the day and rely on public transportation, so all of that makes it just too much to haul the family to the library, so taking the books to the kids is very much appreciated.

If you don't have a bus or personnel, another option is to bag up gently used books that are donated for your struggling readers to borrow. Last summer, I was able to get my hands on a big stash of used books, and did just that. I did not get all the book back, but the kids did read them. I highly recommend this, and if a request is sent out, the odds are very good that books will show up for this purpose. You might even line up a Book Swap like my friend Emily did at her school. It was a huge success, and you can read how that was done [HERE]

4) Make Reading Plans
Top 20 Book List
Before your kids leave for the summer, they need to make reading plans. They need to have a long list of what they want to read, and although making reading lists for kids can be helpful (especially for the parent), we know the kids are more likely to buy into the plan if they've made the list themselves. [THIS FREEBIE] can help you line up a Top 20 Book Party where your kids can work in teams to "evaluate" books and create summer reading options as a class, in small groups by genre, or individually. To read more about this freebie, you can visit this post.

5) Summer Cyber Book Club
BLOG NAME HERE
I am so excited to share the fifth and final summer slide alternative, and the most exciting thing about this is that it's a brand new adventure for me. Last year, I decided to blog with my fourth and fifth graders, and because I'm a huge fan of Donalyn Millier's book, Reading in the Wild, the name of the blog was "Where Wild Readers Roam". Well, when I left my position last year, the blog went dead and no one at my school was interested in taking it on. The design was so cute though, and I hated that it was just sitting out in cyberland. Then, I had an ah-ha thought come to me. "Why not use it as a discussion board for summer reading?", and that's what I plan to do. I have a survey out now and will make final book selections May 15th. You can follow the blog for now by clicking on the blog button to the left. 

Next week, I'll select the books we'll use through the summer. I plan to post discussion questions and activity options in my posts and let students respond to them in the comments. It will be completely anonymous and responding is certainly not required. I may upload printables to Google Drive for the kids to download and use with the books too. I think it will be great fun, and should be easy enough for me to put together. For some, internet access may be an issue, but for many, this won't be a problem. 
Summer is approaching, and for many students, it means summer learning loss. Check out this post on Virginia is for Teachers to learn about five simple ideas you can do NOW to help your students avoid summer learning loss.
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Have specific books you want your kids to read? No problem...feel free to borrow that idea and do your own. All you need is a blog for your platform. 

Have other ideas that have worked well for you? Please share in the comments.


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