Squeezing the Most Out of Summer School

Monday, February 13, 2017 -- Scott Sterling

For most districts, summer school lasts no longer than a month—and it’s sometimes as little as two weeks. That’s not a lot of time to deliver content to students who may need a semester’s worth of material or more. Every day counts. Here’s four tips to make sure students accomplish the learning they need:

Start with formative assessment

The very first thing that should happen in a summer school classroom is formative assessment. The instructor needs to know just how much of that missing content can be skipped and what can be covered on a whole-group basis—both of which can save time. From there, prescriptions can be made for individual students to make the most efficient progress possible. While there are plenty of techniques to carry out formative assessment, educators can save a lot of time using digital tools.

Think about engagement

You may not have a lot of time for the fun extra activities that normally break up and enhance lessons in a year-long classroom, but engagement is crucial in summer school. Students who are engaged work faster and are less likely to become distracted. The content plays a role in this, but so too does the instructional method. Teachers in a summer school classroom need to be high-energy and student-centered, showing that they are just as engaged in the process as the students should be.

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Relax the rules… to a point

Without making broad generalizations, many students find themselves in summer school because they didn’t fit into the traditional classroom model. With that in mind, it’s important to think about the environment of your summer school classroom. Allow the students more choice in what and how they learn. Consider permitting food and drinks (unless surrounded by expensive equipment) to help students stay energized. If a student wants to sit on the floor while working, let them. Of course, the classroom can’t be a free-for-all, but a little freedom can go a long way in helping students relax and engage.

Leverage technology

Technology offers tools to make most aspects of daily life more efficient, and learning is no exception. The right system can prescribe curricula, pace lessons on a personalized basis, and fill background knowledge gaps that would take traditional learning much longer to diagnose. Summer school is one of the most effective use cases for digital learning.

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