An ever-present worry for teachers through the summer months is that students will relax a little TOO much over the break. While it can be tempting to try to micromanage students’ summer learning with packets and reading lists, there are tons of resources available online that can keep your students’ brains active and their enthusiasm high. Take a step back and let students drive their own learning this summer. Here are five ways you can help students' excitement, motivation, and passion for engaging activities fuel their learning through the summer months.
1. Jump into the sandbox.
Sandbox worlds are open-ended platforms that allow students to build objects, games, and more, and share their creations with other users all over the world. Minecraft, Scratch, and Hopscotch are excellent tools that will have your students thinking hard and playing hard all through the break.
2. Bring out your students’ inner genius.
Genius Hour is based on a revolutionary idea: that students should be given time to pursue whatever knowledge they want, just for its own sake. Whether your students are interested in foreign language, robotics, parkour, or something you’ve never even heard of, facilitating Genius Hour is a highly rewarding experience that is sure to stoke your students’ passion for learning. You can learn more about implementing this exciting model on the Genius Hour Wikispace.
3. Keep problem-solving skills sharp.
Sometimes, it feels like students’ brains get a little mushy over the summer without problems to solve (are they really getting that math story problem?). Luckily, there are tons of games available online that take serious cognitive muscle. Your students will love Coaster Crafter and Contraption Maker, which allow them to build, test, and crash their own machines to beat challenges. Find lots more ideas with Common Sense Education's Top Picks for Great Games That Teach Strategy.
4. Join the maker movement.
We’ve all had that student with an otherworldly ability to take things apart and create something new (and hopefully useful!) from the pieces. Maker Ed is just what it sounds like -- the process of making things, be they toys, clothes, art projects or Rube Goldberg machines. You’ll be surprised at what your students can build from random things they find around their homes or classrooms! The Lesson Flow Making Makers is a great place to start.
5. Dream about the future.
All kids think about what they might like to be when they grow up, and you can help them explore their interests through tech. While programs like Google CSFirst guide students to explore the 21st-century skills needed for specific careers, other sites like Roadtrip Nation can help develop a broader vision of what might lie ahead. The Lesson Flow Exploring STEM Careers also has some fantastic resources for guiding kids through career research.
Summer doesn’t have to be a slump for students. With a little guidance and cheerleading, kids can take their excitement for learning to new heights!