Some of you, as you read this, may already be out on summer vacation, but those of us in Maine have a few weeks to go. Most of us are busy gathering information and resources to address the inevitable summer slide that our students experience. This week’s blog is dedicated to that focus. I would really welcome any other ideas or resources, as I know they abound.
YOU CAN LEAD A HORSE TO WATER…
We all know that idiom and how it ends. Similar to how all of our hard work at gathering and dispersing resources tends to end when students do not read or write over the summer months. Although it is frustrating, you still offer water to your horse! You just don’t need to lug 50 gallons of Perrier, swirl it ice and lemon slices and serve it up with a silver straw! We don’t need to spend hours and hours of work or hundreds of dollars for resources to satisfy the thirst of our summer readers. We can instead try to connect them to the resources already available and ready.
DIGITAL DIVIDE AND CONQUER
Sadly we are all to aware of the haves and have nots in our school communities. It is no coincidence that the have nots (as far as technology goes) are often our most struggling students. The correlation between poverty and achievement becomes glaringly obvious when access to technology and online resources are a barrier for student learning. We cannot make that an excuse for not integrating technology and 21st century skills into our teaching and learning, but we DO need to be aware of access issues and think outside of the box to address them.
Knowing our population is key. Who has access to the internet? Who has a smart phone or cell phone? This information can guide the type and amount of work that will go into any summer literacy program you want to implement. However, any initiative should include non-digital resources for families and students and an assumption that there will be those without access.
This is where the old-fashioned notes home come in. Pamphlets and handouts with ideas, resources, book lists, etc abound. Keep them simple. Keep them user friendly. They could include local library programs and hours, local bookstore events and information, free museum, films, concerts, or programs to build family experiences or information on local groups that put on family friendly events. Many libraries set up reading incentive programs that do not require a computer or internet access. Many bookstores have authors come to visit for free or have pajama nights and read alouds. Sharing this information with parents is leading the horse to water.
Many schools get books in kids’ hands. Purchasing inexpensive books, holding book drives for gently used books and setting up book swaps so students can get ‘new to you’ titles in their hands are great ways to promote reading and give your horse a sip!
THE WORLD AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
For those families who do have access to the internet, the world is a finger touch away. We can collect dozens and dozens of resources to share, but that can often overwhelm a parent. By judiciously choosing some resources that you, or your school thinks are worthy, you can give those families a drink without drowning them. It can take time to evaluate all of the resources out there, so I’ll share a few with you to get you started. You may already have all you need, in which case you can tweet them out to me @LitCoachLady on Twitter or LitCoachCorner on Facebook!
BOOKLISTS– I rarely read a book anymore unless it is recommended. I just don’t have time to read everything. I rely on word of mouth or booklist recommendations from organizations I respect. Now, I don’t always agree with their selections, but these books have been vetted by some pretty wise people and there is a good chance they will be well worth your time.
Here are the books students in Maine will be reading and voting on for the next school year:
Maine Student Book Award Nominees 2014-2015
Here are what students in all of the other states will be reading!
Cynthia Leitich Smith’s 50 State Book Awards Compilation
Here are some recommendations and resources from the Pragmatic Mom!
Pragmatic Mom’s Summer Reading
Recommendations by grade level from Education.com
REPRODUCIBLE READING LISTS
American Library Association (ALA)
SUMMER READING PROGRAMS
Scholastic “Keep Kids Reading All Summer-Long”
Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Challenge
Pottery Barn Summer Reading Challenge
ONLINE RESOURCES: Books
StarWalk Kids– Free Digital Library for the month of July
Storyline Online Have great books read aloud!
PBS Kids books, games, activities galore!
Starfall online books
ONLINE RESOURCES: Magazines for kids
Newsela (news articles for middle elementary and up)
TEACHER RESOURCES for FAMILIES
PBS-“how to tackle school summer reading lists”
KIDS BOOK REVIEWS
Spaghetti Book Club – book reviews BY kids, FOR kids
Journal Buddies– Summer Writing Prompts
Boys To Books– Writing Ideas for Boys
Twitter – create a school hashtag ex. #LincolnSummerReaders to post ideas and keep in touch Teachers can follow the hashtag #SummerReading
Facebook– create a private group where you can send parents updates, reminders, event times, resources, etc. Since students under 13 should not be on Facebook, I would promote this as a parent resource.
Edmodo- some teachers create Edmodo groups for their students to connect with their teacher and classmate about books and learning. It is a free “Facebook-like” platform that ensures privacy for students to blog and connect.
Kidblog– parents or teachers can set up kids on a safe blogging site to get them writing and blogging over the summer months and beyond
Texting- Remind 101– safe, one way texting application to stay in touch with parents about summer literacy books, events, ideas.
Whatever you or your school decides to do, keep it fun…keep it light…keep it simple. Remember this IS a vacation for the kids, a time to be with family and make memories outside of school. Ideally they would all read, write, compute, experiment and create all summer long. We know that isn’t the reality for a lot of our kids, but all we can do is supply the water and then let the horses out to pasture!
Whats On My Book Radar?
In case you didn’t notice all of the booklists above…THAT’S what’s on my radar! Checking though the lists, looking at recommendations from friends, lining up my personal summer reading lists. Can’t wait to dig in!