Tucson, AZ – June 20, 2011

Research has shown that students lose ground in their academic dexterity over the summer, particularly in reading, math, and verbal skills. Without the daily routine of the classroom and the repetition of concepts, students lose an average of one to two months’ learning over the summer. Teachers and education experts refer to this as “summer brain drain,” and find themselves spending a good chunk of time reviewing or re-teaching material to their students once school starts up again in September. To help stem the flow of information loss, it’s important that kids keep thinking, reading, and writing throughout the summer.

While summer learning loss is prevalent in most students, studies have found that lower-income students are hit the hardest by summers off from school. More affluent families often enroll their kids in expensive summer camps and enrichment programs to give them a competitive edge when they return to school, and such students can actually make wide academic gains over the summer. For many lower-income students, however, comparable programs either don’t exist, or are financially out of reach for their families. Studies have shown that low-income students lose the most ground in reading skills, which can take months to remedy once they are back in school.

Fortunately, some good options exist for all students, regardless of income. Many public libraries run summer reading programs for preschool kids through teens; this year’s theme is “One World, Many Stories.” There are also lots of free, high-quality online games and activities that are geared towards getting kids to use analytical and reasoning skills.

This week’s Joann’s Picks column on the Gateway’s home page, www.TheGateway.org will focus on resources that we hope you’ll include in a newsletter home to your students’ parents, encouraging them to set aside some time each week for student learning. These are free online activities that will challenge students in a fun and creative way. Peggy’s Corner discusses simple ideas for summer projects that will keep your students engaged throughout the summer. In addition, we will be featuring more lessons, and resources on the Gateway’s Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TheGateway.org) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/Gatewaytoskills) pages. Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook so you don’t miss anything.

Discussions will continue on last week’s theme of Steroids on both pages. All of the weekly Gateway columns and resource selections are archived on the following blog site: http://thegatewayto21stcenturyskills.blogspot.com/.

Resources covered in this week’s columns include:
Shape Poems
Subjects: Language Arts
Grade: K-5
Using this interactive tool, students create shape poems, which are poems that describe an object and are written in the shape of that object. Students may choose shapes from four different themes – nature, school, sports, or celebrations. By selecting a shape, students learn how to focus their writing on a particular topic. Additionally, students are prompted to brainstorm, write, and revise their poems, thus reinforcing elements of the writing process. Students can also print their finished shape poems. This resource is a product of
ReadWriteThink, which presents free, peer-reviewed resources in reading and language arts instruction.

Lure of the Labyrinth
Subjects: Math
Grade: 7-8
Lure of the Labyrinth is an interactive online math game for middle school pre-algebra students. Here, students embark on a mission into a shadowy factory populated by monsters to save a lost pet. Students assume the guise of “undercover monsters” as they work through math problems. In the process, students work with proportions, fractions, ratios, variables, equations, numbers, and operations. Lure of the Labyrinth is a product of the Learning to Go project (LG2G), which concentrates on creating essential resources for teachers, pre-algebra students, and their families.

Play a Virtual Market
Subjects: Economics
Grade: 6-12
After finding an old coin worth $100,000, it’s time for you to make some investments. In this online activity and simulation, students learn how to play the stock market. Players can trade in traditional stocks, and also use call options. This activity was created by Rob Meyer, a production assistant at NOVA Online. NOVA is the award-winning PBS science series, which offers a plethora of science-related lesson plans and activities for K-12 students.

About The Gateway to 21st Century Skills

The Gateway has been serving teachers continuously since 1996. It is the oldest publicly accessible U.S. repository of educational resources on the Web and the oldest continuously operating service of its kind in the world. The Gateway is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and supported by over 700 quality contributors. The Gateway to 21st Century Skills is the cornerstone of the Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) which is a JES & Co. program.

About Joann Wasik- Author of Joann’s Picks

Joann is the Metadata Cataloger for The Gateway for 21st Century Skills. Her primary responsibilities for The Gateway include locating and cataloging standards-based K-12 lessons and activities for The Gateway, as well as writing the “Joann’s Picks” weekly column. Before joining The Gateway in 2006, Joann had been involved with numerous projects at the Information Institute of Syracuse at Syracuse University, including virtual reference with the Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) project; virtual reference competencies and education with the Digital Reference Education Initiative (DREI) project; and metadata cataloging with the Gateway for Educational Materials (GEM). Her previous experience also includes technology training and positions in academic libraries. She also conducts freelance research for business and educational clients. Joann holds B.A. and M.A.T. degrees in English from Boston College, and an M.L.S. degree from Syracuse University.

About Peggy James- Author of Peggy’s Corner

Peggy received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from The University of Arizona, and continued on to earn her M.Ed. from the U of A as well. She has taught physical science and chemistry at the high school level. She is working toward her endorsement in Gifted Education, and has been actively involved in coaching and volunteering in Odyssey of the Mind and Academic Decathlon. She has a passion for teaching critical thinking and creativity in the classroom. She has done work writing, evaluating, and aligning lesson plans to standards as a curriculum consultant with the National Education Association Health Information Network. She is very excited to help create a collaborative environment for educators to discover new resources that will enhance their teaching!

About the GLRC

The Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) is a public-private collaboration which brings to fruition ongoing work between JES & Co., a U.S. 501(c)(3) education research organization, corporate sponsors and education agencies worldwide. Leading the initial corporate involvement are founding worldwide partners Microsoft, Cisco, Cengage/Gale, the National Education Association (NEA), and other leading corporations in process. The GLRC ties together several significant semantic web technologies developed through funding from the National Science Foundation and is designed to support cyber learning. The GLRC supports the implementation of the mapping of major collections of learning resources in systems around the world to the machine-readable expressions of the learning outcomes based on the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) modeling and technical framework. The work will implement the international linking of those resources through trans-jurisdictional mapping of learning outcomes by means of Semantic Web/Linked Data principles for teacher/learner access and use. For more information about the GLRC, contact Terry Smithson at TerryS@JESandCo.org or visit us www.JESandCo.org.

About JES & Co.

JES & Co., a publicly funded 501(c) (3) education research organization, is a leader in research and deployment of education programs based on open standards. With 20 years of experience in interoperability and portability of educational resources, organizations around the world come to JES & Co. for leadership and guidance on education programs and initiatives. Since its establishment in the early 1990s, JES & Co. has led and managed The Achievement Standards Network (ASN), The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, The Gateway to 21st Century Skills (formerly known as GEM), the Dell Academy, the Intel Student Certification Program, and Microsoft’s Partners in Learning. For more information about JES & Co. or the Global Learning Resource Connection, visit www.JESandCo.org.

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