Tag Archives: summer learning

Celebrate the first day of summer with summer reading.

SummerReadingSummer reading is an important component of an overall reading program. Research shows that summer vacation often has a significant negative effect on student learning. Providing opportunities for students to read regularly during the summer can prevent documented reading achievement losses. The bottom line is that students who read during the summer do better in the fall.

A June literacy fair for students and their families is the perfect way to end the school year and get students off on the right track for the summer. In addition to standard carnival fare (face painting, games of chance, etc.), offer a variety of fun literacy-based activities!

  • The cost of entrance? Ask students to bring a lightly used book as an entrance pass, to be collected on a table or display. As students leave, each person can select a book to keep from the donations.
  • Hold a literary trivia contest, with new, donated books for prizes.
  • Invite an author to your school for a book reading/signing event. If the author can’t attend in person, have the author Skype in to talk with the students.
  • Don’t forget to invite families to your event and to include informational material.

How will you kick off the summer with reading?

Summer Learning

summerlearningonlineSince we are past Memorial Day, now seems like a good time to plan for summer learning for students. Summertime is a great time for growing minds! Here are a few ideas that can be passed on to families so the learning can continue even when school isn’t in session:

  • Ask for help with shopping.

Work together to make a shopping list. Younger children can help brainstorm items to add to the list. Older children can create the list for you. A step further? Have children and teens work within a budget, use problem-solving skills to create lists, and buy their favorite treats at the store. See more in this lesson plan.

  • Use a map.

It used to be that when people wanted to know where someplace was or how to get there, they’d buy a paper map. And even though many people now use GPS systems or websites that provide directions, basic map-reading skills are still important for times when these resources are not available. This activity will help kids develop these skills by having them analyze the features found on a state map; locate—and estimate distances between—familiar landmarks on a local map; and research statistical information using an online atlas.

  • Go for a ride!

In the car or while on a bike, notice surrounding things: weather, people or traffic signs. These activities for younger children will have children reading signs, logos, brand names, and other words all over their home and community. While driving around town or surfing the Internet, teens are sure to see “Pass It On” billboards brought to them by The Foundation for a Better Life that are meant to inspire and motivate people to do good.  In this activity, teens will study examples of these billboards and create their own original billboard and inspirational phrase for a person of their choosing.

While it’s important that children see you choosing, checking out and enjoying books, also let children see you using the library as part of an inquiry. Work with a media specialist to find answers. Visit an online library to see what resources are available there. Have the child or teens select some books to check out. Then, ask the child to tell you about one of the texts, why it was picked, and predict what it might be about.

  • Find time to read together every day.

Book clubs have come back as a popular way to allow readers to discuss books in an informal setting. Children can enjoy the same kind of community-building experience by meeting with friends to choose, read, and discuss books together. Their meetings can come to life with discussions, arts and crafts, and activities.  Different book clubs will need different amounts of adult supervision, so provide guidance but don’t be afraid to step back and let them run the show!

  • Play games!

Playing board games or card games can be a fun activity, so why not make your own? Working together, the players will decide what the game will look like, how it will be played, and what kinds of materials are needed. When the game and directions are complete, have fun playing it!

Research tells us that children and teens who don’t read and write outside of school, especially during long breaks such as summer vacation, face a big loss in their literacy growth compared to those who do continue learning all year long. This means the summer months and other breaks from school offer wonderful opportunities for families, caregivers, and out-of-school educators to help improve reading and writing.

Plan Now for Summer Reading

GetCaughtMay is Get Caught Reading Month, and it’s time to start making your plans to encourage students to keep reading once classes are over. Try these resources to get your students involved in independent reading all summer long.

Check out the Summer Reading Calendar Entry from ReadWriteThink.org for links to activities and resources to share with families.

Introduce book clubs to your students now with the ReadWriteThink.org lesson plan “Book Clubs: Reading for Fun” – then encourage your students to meet and read during the summer months. For a take on book clubs with older students, check out “Watch Out, Oprah! A Book Club Assignment for Literature Courses” from Teaching English in the Two-Year College. If face-to-face meetings aren’t possible, suggest online discussions of the books students read.

Prepare for summer reading by asking your students to investigate the reading process with the ReadWriteThink.org lesson “Developing a Living Definition of Reading in the Elementary Classroom” or the lesson “Developing a Definition of Reading through Analysis in Middle School“. Using the strategies in the lessons, challenge students not only to define summer reading but also to finish the lesson with at least one new title or genre they’ll read during the summer months.

To structure independent reading and support summer reading, have students complete a reading plan, a simple wish list of books they hope to read in the future. The ReadWriteThink.org lesson “Developing Reading Plans to Support Independent Reading” invites students to reflect on the texts that they have read and then compile lists of books they want to read next.

Catch students’ interest by listening to the podcast episodes “Summer Adventures” and “Summer Series“. During your last weeks of school, promote summer reading by inviting students to create brochures and flyers that suggest books and genres to explore during the summer months with the ReadWriteThink.org lesson “Authentic Persuasive Writing to Promote Real Summer Reading“.

For titles to share with students (or read yourself), take a look at the podcast series Text Messages which provides families, educators, out-of-school practitioners, and tutors reading recommendations they can pass along to teen readers.

Even college students can be encouraged to read when classes end. Encourage students to consider the wide range of texts around them with the Teaching English in the Two-Year College article “Too Many Other Enticing ‘Texts’: On Why I Didn’t Read Last Night“.

For more ideas for summer reading, see the “Summer Reading and Learning” Teaching Resource Collection, which includes links to additional articles, lesson plans, and other resources.


Summer Fun!

summerTo me, summer means picnics and barbecues, reading, watching summer blockbusters, listening to tunes at the lake or pool, spending time with friends and family – and relaxing. Did you know that NCTE and ReadWriteThink.org have resources to support all of those things?

What is on your list to do this summer?

Summer Renewal and Growth


As the summer progresses, now is a good time to revisit goals and plans. Some of these plans may include rest and relaxation and some consist of professional growth opportunities. All of this lead to revitalization! Here are some examples of summer activities that lead to renewal and growth over the summer.

Spending time with family: What started out as a way to complete school summer reading lists, led a family to not only discuss the books and, ultimately, about life. Read more about the mother’s reflection.

Recharging with new experiences: A teacher decides to try new things one summer including making his debut in local community theater.

Participating in Conversations – face-to-face: The summer is a great time to attend professional development experiences like National Writing Summer Institutes, seminars and institutes sponsored by the National Endowment for the Humanities, or both!

Participating in Professional Development Abroad: A teacher attended Fulbright-Hays seminars in Poland, Hungary, Peru, and Ecuador and notes how she and her colleagues use Fulbright information in their classrooms.

Participating in Conversations – online: It’s not always possible to attend PD in person. There are now so many opportunities for professional conversations online. Learn more about “Online Communities: Linking Teacher to Teacher.” Then, join the online conversations with NCTE!

Teaching Summer School: When the traditional school year is over, there are opportunities for students and teachers to head to summer school. Here are examples of a teacher helping high school students with reading and another teaching in a summer academy.

Reading: Summer is a time known for reading. Reading for pleasure, completing summer reading lists, reading to learn. This article describes facilitating a summer reading program.

This English Journal article asked teachers, “What Do You Do during Summer Vacation to Help You Reenter the Classroom Refreshed in the Fall?”

What do you do?