Saturday, May 1, 2010

Summer Literacy Challenge

Was my last post really on Wednesday? Oh dear. I must be losing it. I could have sworn it was Thursday.

Since I've neglected you two days in a row, I'll take a hiatus from my normal weekend hiatus and post a little somethin' somethin'. While catching up with my blogroll this morning, I encountered teachin's contemplations over end-of-the-year activities. She mentioned an idea which I love love love to combat the summer gap that puts the brakes on any momentum gained by June. This is one of those wonderful blog chain-letters, so to speak, in which teachin got it from Stacey who got it from Jen Barney.

The idea is to put together a packet of mini projects or tasks that will exercise and stretch those reading & writing muscles, preventing atrophy. How does the teacher motivate these students who s/he technically no longer has? By offering them a "survival pack" for next year's grade, which is awarded upon presenting a completed Summer Literacy Packet. The survival pack is mostly school-supply oriented, but with fun items like colorful pens, neat bookmarks, or anything you can find great deals on. (This is something that might be worth planning ahead: stockpile items in August/Sept/Oct from back-to-school sales)

I love this idea and want to query my fellow secondary teachers...how do you think this could work with high school? If you're doing grades 9-11, you will easily see the kids in the hallway again, so returning the packet to you shouldn't be a problem. I just wonder how motivated high schoolers would be to get that survival packet. Then again, I've heard it said that high schoolers often perform for the same/similar motivations that elementary teachers use, so maybe they would be interested in getting free stuff. I wonder...

Would it be possible to contact local businesses/retailers (movie theater, restaurants, etc.) to ask if they would donate any coupons or small gift certificates to these survival packs? (a free popcorn at the theater, free appetizer, 10% CD/DVD). Pizza Hut used to do it (do they still?) with reading programs all the time! Hm... okay, yes, I would definitely look into this.

I found ONE sample online that seems to be geared towards high school. It breaks items down into categories of one point to five points; there are MANY different items under each category. They could do any variety of those activities all summer long and then bring in the checklist (and proof) for extra credit at the beginning of the new school year. I really like this idea and am already considering implementing it should I go back to teaching this year. It might take some cooperation on the behalf of other teachers, since students don't know which teachers they will have until August(ish). Perhaps it could be something your department agrees to do together? The benefit of the packets that Stacey & Jen Barney created is that they are weekly challenges, which means students practice all summer long and not just cramming in the activities in the last 2 weeks, which could potentially happen with the upper-level sample I found.

Any ideas for how to adapt the Summer Literacy Challenge for upper levels?

source: photo1 courtesy of Canton Public Library; photo2 courtesy alex.ragone

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