More and more schools are trending away from summer assignments. And maybe for good reason. Folks have argued that homework over holidays rarely correlates to higher performance during the school year. Run any quick search and you’ll find plenty of thoughtful arguments against mandatory summer projects. (What do you think? Tell us in the comments.)
But even if we ditch the compulsory reading list, what learning opportunities can we create that keep students buzzing and curious over the summer? Here are few ideas that stray from the norm:
Blog Your Best Summer Moments
What if we traded book reports for summer blogging opportunities? Here is a chance to reinforce 21st century skills and give students the freedom to write about texts - or summer experiences - that most interest them.
The benefits of student blogging are well-documented. Chief among them, learning the craft of writing for an online audience and understanding nuances of online style have become more applicable, valuable skills for graduates. Summer blogging with students could be optional. It could be a time to test different platforms and figure out what works best for students and teachers. It could be a slightly more structured process in which students write about experiences, hopes for the next school year, or books of their choosing.
In all iterations, providing an opportunity to sharpen online writing skills while pursuing personal curiosities during summer months could be a new twist on an old assignment.
Do Something. And Share That Experience.
Here’s your assignment for the summer: experience something new.
It could be trying a new hobby, going to camp, eating a new type of food, or visiting a new place. Do it and report back. You’ll need to set up a quick discussion space for students to submit their stories (and hey, who says we have to limit the sharing to one thing??) and use the digital landscape to stay in touch while giving yourself a little space for the summer.
Summer months don’t signal a stop in learning, just new kinds of learning and perhaps a different pace.
Maybe this summer the students come up with the questions. Top ten things they’d like to learn next year. Or perhaps as an add-on to sharing their summer experiences, the assignment is to come up with a new research question based on something they learned over the summer that they would like to pursue in the next school year.
The goal is not to bog students down with busy work, but to identify curiosities throughout July and August, tie them to real experiences, and encourage students to keep asking questions.