Learning

Summer Slide – A reality or media construct?

I just read Alfie Kohn’s take on the Summer Slide.  He puts forward an interesting argument and correlates the ‘fear’ of loss of progress over the summer with the same fear of what will happen if teachers don’t assign homework (hint: Mayhem! Chaos! Kids Gone Wild!).

He summarizes his argument:

By the time September rolls around, kids may indeed be unable to recall what they were told in April: the distance between the earth and the moon, or the definition of a predicate, or the approved steps for doing long division. But they’re much less likely to forget how to set up an experiment to test their own hypothesis (if they had the chance to do science last spring), or how to write sentences that elicit a strong reaction from a reader (if they were invited to play with prose with that goal in mind), or what it means to divide one number into another (if they were allowed to burrow into the heart of mathematical principles rather than being turned into carbon-based calculators).

Summer learning loss? It’s just a subset of life learning loss—when the learning was dubious to begin with.

His summary is really a blueprint for what parents can do (and teachers can support) in order to use the summer break as an opportunity for growth rather than loss: Do experiments, swing in a hammock and write a story from the perspective of something around you, bake something or make something that has you using your math skills, for real. Most importantly, focus on the process of having a summer vacation and all that entails: rest, experiences, creation, re-creation, and play.

As Kohn points out, the ‘summer slide’ is evident when standardized test scores are compared. But what about the skills that can not be measured on such a test?

My take on combatting the slide? Here are some Summer Learning slides I shared with the parents at my school:

With the exception of the ‘knowing’ slide, which gives details of websites in which students can practice traditional academic skills, the tools suggested focus on the idea of creating and documenting based on experiences. The more children see, do, touch, feel, experience, and try, the more they will have to speak, write, and create about.

In addition to technology, get outside, and read (read outside or just read and then go outside or vice versa). If you are needing help with summer reading, look no further than my favorite book blog: One Page To The Next.  Last summer she posted on Summer Reading for Book Enthusiasts. This summer, her Summer Reading post is another great spread of excitement for readers.

If you are still looking for ideas, my other favorite blog Engage Their Minds has a wealth of resources under the category “Summer Slide

Finally, I love this list of ideas for experiences for kids from Ranger Rick.  Take a look and download from here – and then make a digital book, i-movie, podcast, artwork, poem, rap song, comic book, or ??? about your experience!

RR_SUMMER_BUCKETLIST_working

Inspiration, Reading

A Quote, An Infographic and Four Awesome Websites for Reading

I am seeing A LOT on my Twitter feed about reading.  With schools out for summer or finishing up their last few days or weeks, teachers are tweeting like crazy about ways to avoid the Summer Slide (not the one at the pool).

Here are some resources I have come across to do with reading that look pretty awesome. What are your favorites?

One of the best things I think you could do to stay connected over the summer is to set yourself (or your child) up with a Twitter account and ‘follow’ some of the curators of these blogs below, but also, follow your favorite authors.  My recent experience says that many authors will take the time to respond to budding readers and aspiring writers.  I would caution you to read carefully before tweeting or emailing or commenting so that you are not asking a question that they have already answered elsewhere on their blog or in the dustjacket of their book! Ask a question that will deepen your connection to the author or help you move forward in your own reading or writing journey.

Below are the sites I am following this summer (to begin with!).  Click on the header for each blog/site for more information.  But first, check out this fun infographic to help you decide what to read this summer.  I love this – totally adding it to the “cool things I want to share with my kids” list for next year!  Blogs to follow after the (long) infographic:
Summer Reading Flowchart

Via Teach.com and USC Rossier Online

This blog is by Mr. Schu a ” K-5 teacher-librarian who works diligently to put the right book in every child’s hand.”  I follow @MrSchuReads on Twitter and love the timely updates, the wealth of knowledge and the love of reading that oozes from every tweet.  If you love books, follow Mr. Schu! You might also want to scroll down and browse through the blogroll of blogs Mr. Schu follows.  I have clicked through a few and they are all pretty great – I can see my ‘read later’ feed on Instapaper is going to implode this summer!

I think it makes a big different when you know a blogger personally, versus going on what is ‘popular’ on the internet.  The author of One Page To The Next has been a parent of one of my students for two, coming up three, years.  She is a passionate reader.  She reads and reads and reads and stays on top of all things amazing with reading.  She has introduced me to authors I never knew, connected me to amazing ideas in education and children’s literature and reignited my passion for reading.  When she walks into my room, she thinks she is just a regular mom, but this is what I see:

In their own words, the curators of the Nerdy Book Club site welcome you:

If you love books, especially those written for children and young adults, then you are an honorary member of The Nerdy Book Club. Like us, you probably always have a book along to read, a title to recommend, and time to talk about works held dear.

This looks like another great place to get loads of information about what is current and cool in all things books and a chance to hear from other people about their thoughts on books via reviews and recommendations. One of the curators is Donalyn Miller, author of The Book Whisperer.  That alone should be enough information to get you to sign up!  The Nerdy Bookclub is also the place to go for information on the Summer #BookaDay challenge.  It looks great!

Touted as the site where “kids flex their reading muscles”, Biblionasium is a new site for kids, teachers, and parents to connect over a love of books. According to the site, here is what they offer these three groups of readers (click each image for more information):

UPDATE:  There is another great site:  Mrs P’s Tips To Keep Kids Engaged in Reading has some really cool ideas!  Check it out!

Creativity, Reading

The Beauty of Vowels, Advice to Sink in Slowly, and the Birth of a Book.

How often do you think about vowels?  Probably not often!  In a post titled “Vowels: A cinematic homage to the beauty of language and life”, Brainpickings shares this video from film maker and visual storyteller, Temujin Doran.  The film is a beautiful collection of images, narrated by Temujin with singular words: “floor, door, small, tall, sky, fly…” and yet the picture, whilst always embodying the meaning behind the word, does not necessarily translate literally – which keeps you watching.  Actually, I think it is a clever combination of a very droll, rhythmic voice and the most beautiful of images that makes this such an interesting film. I challenge you to not walk around spouting random words when you look at things in a proper British accent after watching this film!

 

Temujin was just one of the artists commissioned to create one of the series of posters crafted by designers for design students in their first year of studies at UK universities.  Titled ‘Advice to Sink in Slowly’ the prints are both motivational, inspirational and beautiful works of art. It made me think that my fifth graders could create something equally as beautiful as a departure gift to the elementary school on their graduation to middle school in a few short months!  What advice would they leave in their wake, I wonder?

Below are a few of my favorites, click here for the full collection.

Last week my husband found a video on how books were made and he suggested that amongst all the high tech, I remember the ‘lowly’ printed word and its contribution to education.  I couldn’t have agreed more and loved the short film, but before I could post it, one of my pillars of inspiration and a fantastic source for anyone who wants to get kids (or adults) excited about reading, literature, books and all things related, One Page To the Next, posted the video!  Despite knowing that ‘everything is a remix’, I was hesitant to post it myself but it is just too good not to share! It makes me want my own first edition and it would definitely be a fantastic video to show kids who wanted to author and publish their own books!   Don’t forget to check One Page To the Next – you can thank me later.