Thursday, May 20, 2010

Teachers - Light Your Spark with Families for the Summer Months

Let's Keep Them "In the Pool"

We all know how important the summer months can be for students.  With little stimulation or opportunity, they can lose more than 3 months' progress during the time they are away from school.  Today's post will share resources and information on how you can use these last few weeks to impact summer learning.

I'll begin with a wonderful list of articles, websites, and research from the the State Library of Alaska.  You will find familiar names like Dr. Richard Allington and Steve Kreshan and a few new ones there. 

Here are a few more tools for supporting and encouraging students to read during the summer:

Connect with your local library and other organizations that may be promoting reading with school aged children in your community (booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Nobles are on board).  Find out what they are doing and publicize those activities and resources with students and families.   My own local library, Huntsville/Madison County Public Library (AL), is offering an End of the Year Summer Reading Party!

Make reading a social event.  Give your students a few extra minutes every day to talk about what they are reading.  Use colorful, florescent index cards or post its and create a cool "What's HOT?" bulletin board. 

Blog or text with your students about what you and they are reading (and viewing) this summer.  You'll need parent permission, but even a core group can make a difference.  I know that you want to be "away" for a while just like the students do but a small investment can yield big dividends.  Set a few guidelines such as how often to post and encourage the online conversation to weave between story lines and characters and what your students are doing during their summer vacation.  You might even see some text to self and text to world connections and squeeze in a bit of authentic writing practice!

Get Families Involved

Families may not understand what can be lost during the summer without reading and writing.  Be sure you share with them a few bits of information and some encouraging resources.  Check out Summer Reading to help moms and dads, grandparents, and caregivers tap into the joy, exploration and fun of reading.

Explore the Internet as a Source for Engaged Reading

Hook reading to the Internet!  PBS, Scholastic, and The Collaborative Summer Library Program (an initiative in Minnesota) have all provided online resources and fun stuff to connect to reading. 

ALERT!  Our Voices Need to Be Heard Now

Finally, I 'm asking families to support educators through my blog for parents this week   I'd encourage you to visit and see how you can communicate to your congressmen and representatives in your state about an important amendment being added to the current jobs bill.  It affects your directly!  Letters and sharing need to happen before Tuesday, May 25, as that is the day the amendment will be voted on.  Visit my parent blog and you'll find out more.  While you are there, share the link with families through your classroom newsletter.  They'll be a part of an important "voice of the people" AND find lots of family-friendly resources and ideas for encouraging reading with kids of all ages.

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