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Using technology to rethink summer learning

“Summer slide,” “Summer brain drain,” no matter what term you use for it, it’s well-known that learners lose critical academic skills during the weeks that they are out of school. This is true in both reading and math, and especially true for low-income learners.

Summer school, summer camps, and summer reading lists have all been employed as ways to prevent summer slide, but each of these solutions has its drawbacks, including inconvenience, cost, and lack of learner and parent buy-in. Summer is a time for learners (and teachers!) to relax and reset. It’s important to keep kids learning, but summer assignments have to be highly engaging to have any real impact.

Instead of the traditional summer reading list or set of math worksheets, consider having your learners complete summer projects that emphasize choice and exploration. When kids come back in September, they’ll be more prepared to jump right in, and they’ll have completed a project that gives you better insight into who they are and how they learn.

Sound complicated? Luckily, technology makes managing projects like this easy for teachers, learners, and parents.

With Hāpara Workspaces, you can provide learners with the goals of a project, resources to help them get started, and options for what they will create as a final product and how they can do it, all in one, easy to keep track of spot. No one can show up on the first day of school and claim they lost their reading list back in June. It’s all online and learners can access it when they have time between pool parties and family vacations.

With the Hāpara Teacher Dashboard, you can occasionally check in on learners’ progress and send feedback to learners and parents. This will set you up for great communication during the school year, and encourages learners to start their projects before the last week of summer!

Need some inspiration? Try projects like these:

Keeping Learning Local:

Provide learners with a list of local museums, parks, historical sites and landmarks that are free or have low-cost admission prices. Include links to additional reading about each place. Ask learners to visit three of the locations from the list and create a report explaining what they learned about the current culture or history of their area. Encourage learners to present their findings in creative ways that can be shared in the first week of school.

Summer Documentaries:

Provide learners with a range of diaries, blogs, and documentaries to read and view as inspiration. Ask learners to document the most exciting aspects of their summer in the medium of their choice. learners can share their final products with small groups as part of getting to know you exercises in the first week of school.

Mastering a New Skill:

Encourage learners to pick up a new skill over the summer. You can provide a list of suggested skills to pick from (like basketball, swimming or cooking) but let learners choose something of interest to them. Provide learners with links to articles and TedTalks about skill building. Have learners document their process for acquiring the skill including summarizing articles they read and tracking how much they practiced. learners can present what they learned and how they learned it in writing, video or live demonstrations in the fall.

Learn what to focus on when building a culture of digital citizenship, including conversation starters for learners and educators!

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