The absolute hardest adjustment for me after graduating from college and starting my first full-time job was the loss of designated breaks: spring break, summer break, winter break. Aw, those were the days. Sometimes, I fantasize that Reading Horizons will take up the same schedule as schools. That is whom we serve, after all.
But despite my deep love for summer break throughout my school years, I know I underutilized that time off. Students (and teachers) should definitely take time to relax after the conclusion of the school year. But it takes only a few days for that to lose its luster.
Your students don’t want to be bored or to waste time. Sometimes, they just don’t know what to do with their time. By simply highlighting some productive and educational options for summer learning and entertainment, you could greatly increase student interest and participation. Use this Summer Learning Worksheet to prepare your students to make the most of their time off this summer.
FYI: Most of these activities are geared toward older students (middle school/high school). If you work with younger students, here are three articles you can pass along to parents to promote summer learning:
Have your students fill in their summer learning worksheet with ideas from the following activities:
1. Have students share their favorite boredom-busting activities for the summer
As referenced in the book Contagious by Jonah Berger, researcher Koreen Johannessen, a clinical social worker at the University of Arizona, found that the best way to create social change was to make the desired change observable to the public. What better way to encourage summer learning than to have a few of your students share what they do to learn or alleviate their boredom over the summer? Social proof creates social change.
2. Have students create summer learning groups around their interests
Learning is cool. Today’s social issues, the Hamilton musical, and the travel craze have made podcasts, history, and language learning relevant to teens. There are so many free resources and ways to connect that students can easily find a way to discuss, share, and engage about their interests over the summer.
Here are a few resources that students can use to create learning groups via Facebook, in-person discussion groups, or individual learning:
For students who love history or politics: Presidential Podcast
For students who like to question facts: Revisionist History
(If you’re a teacher looking for a podcast to listen to this summer, may I recommend the intellect of Reading Horizons Education Specialist Laura Axtell on our new Podcast, Podclassed? I’ve spent a lot of time working with Laura; she’s a genius! She has more passion for education and the well-being of every student than anyone I’ve ever met.)
Duolingo Language Learning App
I’m no linguist, but if you can’t afford a private language tutor and are out of school for the summer, the Duolingo App is a great free option for students to learn different languages. The daily reminders and leaderboard (if students follow each other) are pretty motivating. Students can create a What’s App, Marco Polo, or Google Hangout group to practice a new language with each other over the summer.
3. Encourage students to develop new talents and explore new interests this summer
Summer is the perfect time for students to try something new. Give them somewhere to start:
Pinterest can provide your students with days of entertainment. Encourage students to look for art projects, DIY projects, and recipes to try out this summer.
Encourage the creative students in your class to rewrite the ending of one of their favorite books or movies over the summer. If they don’t like that idea, they could also do an internet search for hundreds of creative writing prompts.
If your students want an extra writing challenge this summer, encourage them to participate in the NaNoWriMo Young Writers Summer Writing Program.
Sports and Outdoor Recreation
Have students discuss different sports and recreational activities they’re interested in and exchange contact information to organize meetups over the summer. Have students share their favorite local hikes and upcoming concerts and events.
4. Give a plug for summer jobs and volunteer opportunities
Not that you should overwhelm students with thoughts of their future, but volunteering and summer jobs can build college applications and can make future travel and study abroad programs much more attainable. Paint a brief picture of how the summer could be used to maximize these opportunities in the future. Have students share what they know about current job and volunteer opportunities.