How To Make Teaching Summer School Easy


Press the Easy Button with this interactive and engaging plan for Middle School ELA Summer School!

For many years at the beginning of my career, I taught summer school.  As an ELA teacher, we naturally studied a novel.  I remember teaching "Freak the Mighty" and "Max and Me and the Time Machine".  

What I discovered was that it is hard to get students into a book during the summer.  We did some pretty fun things with the book, but they struggled to stay with me.  They needed more to keep them going.  They needed involvement.

So I began to think about this quandary and over the years, I've come to realize that the solution is two-fold:  Use short stories and project-based learning.

1.  Short Stories are perfect for summer school because they are, well, short. They seem more accessible because of their length.  And these days you can find audio for them rather easily too!  Plus, they pack a powerful educational punch in less than 20 pages.

2.  Project-based learning gives students choice.  Anytime students have a choice they are much more engaged.  They feel invested because they made the decision to do the assignment.  Combine that choice with group work and now every middle school student is "in".  

So how did I combine these two to make teaching summer school easy?

The Student Forum

The Student Forum is a culmination of reading and writing exploration.   This is what I do:

1.  Students take a multiple intelligences assessment.
2.  Students are grouped by their strengths.
3.  Each group chooses a short story from my list.
4.  I teach summary skills.
5.  Each individual in the group reads the story, and creates a summary.
6.  I teach plot diagrams.
7. Each group creates a plot diagram.
8.  I teach group work skills (including attentive listening)
9.  I meet with each group and give them 2 project choices based on their strength.
10.  Students choose a project and then individual roles for the project.
11.  I teach research.
12.  Each member of the team completes research about the story and/or author that relates to their project and turns in an individual report.
13.  Students use the information from their reports to create the group project.
14. We hold the Student Forum where each group sets up a table and presents their work.

There's a few more details (like what each group brings to the presentation and what will be created) but this is the basic outline.  And students practice reading skills, writing skills, research skills, and presentation skills all in the space of one month.  It's powerful to see how the students blossom and get into their projects.  It's equally as fantastic to be a true facilitator by presenting the information and then watching the students take that and apply it to their projects.  

It's taken me years to pull all of this together and every year I feel like it gets better. If you want this month-long all-in-one solution (with FOUR PowerPoints, Notes, Checklists, and EDITABLE Lesson Plans) for your summer school, click here!

Summer School has never been easier with this all-in-one reading and writing project-based curriculum for middle school! All the work is done - including PowerPoints, notes, and Lesson Plans for important skills such as plot diagram, summarizing, researching, and group work!

This resource will make teaching summer school easy!  Your students will love having choice and some independence which fosters engagement and you will love your role as a facilitator!

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