Tip #1: What do my students really need to know to be successful next year?
This is one of the first questions I ask myself while planning a summer school curriculum. This answer to this question can vary, but the simplistic answer is: students need to read and write at grade level to be successful. So, how do we get students there? What strategies can we employ during the very short time we have students over the summer to bridge that gap, to get them to that end goal? The answer to these questions is just as simple- let students read and write- a lot. We can worry about specific curriculum, specific texts, specific skills, but if we just let students read and write a lot, they will grow!
Tip #2: Teach close reading strategies.
If I could pinpoint one skill that I have added to my teaching in the last few years that made the most impact on students, it would be teaching close reading strategies to my students. I do this at the start of every school year, and every summer school session. I have written a couple of blog posts about this great strategy, check them out here.
Tip #3: Incorporate movement and collaboration as much as possible.
I have been trying to bring this idea into my teaching throughout the traditional school year as much as possible, but I think that this is even more important in summer school. Your students will be wishing that they were playing/hanging with friends and enjoying their summer break. Getting them up, moving, and engaging with your learning activities will be so helpful in getting both you and your students through summer school! Try gallery walks, discussion groups, four corners, etc, anything to get them moving!
Tip #4: Play games!
I am always trying to bring fun and engagement to my lessons. I love the idea of taking a skill and turning it into a game for students. I take a dry subject like grammar and make a Simple Sentence Smack Down game, or a Conjunctive Adverb Ball Toss game. Students love these games, and in their pure engagement, they are learning- all the while forgetting about the fun they are missing outside of the school walls. I have written a blog post about my grammar games- check that out here so you can bring these into your summer school curriculum with ease!
Tip # 5: Give them choice.
Let them pick their texts; let them pick the topic for their writing assignment. Give them ownership of their learning and let them bring the interest into the assignment with that topic they are passionate about, or a book they enjoy. I think there is a time and place for class novels, or structured essays, but summer school may not be that time. The students in our summer school classes are often struggling to connect to our content area. Helping these students to find a genre or book series they enjoy can change their entire mindset about learning English. Letting a student craft an argument on a topic of passion can give them the voice they didn’t know they had. It can be so very powerful to help a struggling learner find a lifelong love of reading, one they never imagined they would have.
Tip #6: Keep grading to a minimum.
Assessing work over the summer is just painful! There is no other way to say it! To reduce grading and save my summer, I try to host conferences with my students about their work instead of sitting down with a stack of essays while my friends and family enjoy the beautiful summer weather without me. Host writing conferences with your students to discuss ways in which they can grow. Read their work with them, allow them to see you naturally struggle over parts that need rewriting. They will learn so much more from this experience than your red felt tip flair pen could ever provide, and you will save your sanity (and weekends!)
Tip #7: Teacher’s Pay Teachers is your friend!
Don’t reinvent the wheel! Take a created unit and make it your own. A small investment into a unit or an entire summer school curriculum can give you back your summer. When I first started teaching, I prided myself in being able to create amazing learning opportunities for my students. I didn’t want to buy something I knew I could make myself. But, I drained myself very quickly. I burnt out fast. I worked 10-12 hour days, I worked weekends, I worked all summer. I was exhausted and miserable. Then, I found Teacher’s Pay Teachers. I became a seller because I love to create curriculum, but I also started BUYING curriculum. I cannot tell you how much this has changed my life. I moved up to high school a few years ago, and found amazing sellers making curriculum that yes, I could make for myself, BUT I didn’t have to. Just because you can make your own learning units, doesn’t mean you always should. Let yourself off the hook sometimes. Take an easy out on occasion. It is life-changing!
If you are interested in purchasing an entire summer school bundle, I do have two available. You can get more information on these units by clicking on the images below.