Summer school can be a daunting time for educators. Many struggle to create a concise curriculum that effectively teaches material while meeting the shortened timeline of summer school. Some find it challenging to override the distraction of summer fun for students—especially students who struggled to concentrate during the school year. One of the main challenges that educators face is adjusting their approaches on teaching to meet the needs of summer school students whose performance during the year necessitated summer school in the first place.

Since these students didn’t learn up to standards during the school year, why approach summer school lesson planning the same way you’d approach the main curriculum? To reach these children, we must think outside the box while planning lessons. During my 30 years as an educator, principal, executive director, and superintendent, I’ve developed three key steps to consider while developing a unique, engaging summer school curriculum for the students who need it.

Three steps to developing an engaging summer school curriculum

Step 1: Plan a curriculum that creates a self-contained classroom.
During the academic year, many students find themselves in an inclusive classroom. This is a great environment for many learners, but some students find themselves in summer school because the inclusive approach was not best suited to their needs: There may have been distractions, or the inherent “teach to the middle” strategy didn’t work for kids on the ends of the learning spectrum. Summer school brings together students with varying cognitive abilities, learning styles, and academic strengths and weaknesses. A lesson plan that creates a self-contained classroom allows for greater academic support for the students who don’t in the average inclusive classroom.

(Next page: How to plan a targeted summer school curriculum and more)

About the Author:

Prior to joining RoboKind, Gregory Firn served as superintendent in residence for DreamBox Learning following retiring from more than 33 years in public education. He served in several educational leadership roles in Texas, North Carolina, Connecticut, Washington state, Nevada, and overseas. Grounded in the school effects research, Firn has been a pioneer in digital conversion where he twice led system-wide digital-transformation initiatives including the design and implementation of


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