Learning loss is a big worry among educators, but these activities offer fun learning experiences to keep the summer slide at bay

11 resources to avoid the summer slide

Learning loss is a big worry among educators, but these activities offer fun learning experiences to keep the summer slide at bay

4. Virtual trips, combining art and nature, finding the science in baking–what’s not to love? These summer STEM activities from Project Lead The Way will help keep the summer slide at bay. The list was compiled by PLTW teachers and is intended for students of all ages, along with their families.

5. After a tumultuous year, the last thing students want to do is to continue to “do school,” says Mara Rodriguez, director of educator success at Curriculum Associates. That is why it is paramount to engage students in wanting to continue their learning after that last bell rings. Check out this summer learning website and a blog post on how to host a summer learning challenge.

Motivating students looks different for different age groups, but a few promising practices for educators include:

  • Discussing individual end-of-year data with students, encouraging them to self-reflect on their strengths and areas for growth, and giving them a role in setting their own goals for what to work on over the summer.
  • Sharing learning goals with families and partnering with them, offering specific suggestions on how they can support learning at home.
  • Celebrating students’ commitment to their learning throughout the summer and showcasing their artifacts and progress using social media, email and/or regular mail.
  • Organizing a school-wide celebration upon return school in the fall, allowing those students who showed commitment and met their specified summer goals to be celebrated and share their learning.”

6. On Vernier’s Remote Learning Solutions webpage, educators will find a variety of resources they can share with students that provide the opportunity to visualize, analyze, and interact with real data as they stay engaged with STEM throughout the summer, according to Robyn Gastineau, director of Chemistry, Biology, & Environmental Science at Vernier Software & Technology. One example is the Vernier Graphical Analysis™ Pro app, in which educators can choose from a library of videos showing experiments synchronized with data for students to analyze. Resources are available to educators as a free 30-day trial. Vernier’s free Scratch and Arduino coding activities help students learn how the physical world connects to the computer-centric activity of learning to code. 

7. “Science is like exercise – the best way to improve, or at the very least not slide backwards, is to do it,” says Mike Marvel is lead scientist and manager of product development for Flinn Scientific. If students and teachers need help with finding creative ways to do science over the summer they can check out Science2Go. The program will show students how to do chromatography with candy, make an acid-base indicator from cabbage, explore thermal conductivity with pots and pans, and a bunch of other creative activities that coach them to look at the world with a scientific perspective. And, teachers can track student progress and engagement in the program if they’d like, so that any student growth is captured.

8. This resource from the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, is chock-full of activities and suggestions to help students avoid summer learning loss as they wrap up another COVID school year. You’ll find resources on literacy, arts, wellness, STEM, college and career readiness, parent engagement, and more.

9. Teachers who are searching for more formal resources can visit the KidWind website and find free activities on renewable energy for elementary, middle, and high school grade levels. The site also offers short courses for teachers to build skills and kits to help explore wind energy or solar power through creative projects. “Offering students activities to do over the summer that focus on clean energy, especially around what is taking place in their own communities, can help students explore STEM in addition to helping them see what a renewable energy future looks like. Visit a local wind farm or solar project, explore the companies that provide power to your town or city. Many times these organizations are happy to share what they are doing,” said Michael Arquin, founder of KidWind.

10. Aperture offers resources for students and families to help them get working on social and emotional learning over the summer, including a free set of downloadable “Promoting SEL at Home” guides. Aperture’s blog provides additional ideas to help teachers and out-of-school staff easily and effectively incorporate these SEL activities into afterschool programs and summer school. “One thing we all know is that this past year has been hard on pretty much everyone. And while students and educators alike may need a break from the stress of learning during a pandemic, there are things educators can do to recharge, and help students regroup, over the summer. Teachers can take self-paced SEL PD over the summer with Aperture Education’s EdSERT online program. EdSERT is a comprehensive set of research-based modules to help educators improve their SEL practice. Teachers who want a sample of what EdSERT offers can download a free PDF Special Edition Optimistic Thinking Guide at https://bit.ly/3hzBK7w,” said Jessica Adamson, CEO of Aperture Education.

11. “Nationally, students could lose five to nine months of learning by the end of June 2021 and when students fall behind it can be extremely stressful, leading to a loss of confidence,” said Justin Reilly, CEO of Impero Software. Prioritizing well-being, mental health, and connectedness will be of the utmost importance. Impero Backdrop, a free tool to log mental health concerns, can provide a repository of information on student wellbeing because students may need extra support over the summer. Students also should be allowed to use school technology over the summer, even if schools aren’t offering summer learning–they can still help students learn by giving them access to educational content on school devices, made possible by device management solutions.

Laura Ascione

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