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Summer Planning: Setting Up Learners for Success This School Year

Tuesday, July 12, 2016 -- Brianna Pyka

Even though it feels like summer has just begun, we know that for many of you planning for the school year never ends. Some educators suggest that committing to just three days a week of planning during the summer months can yield months of engaging activities for your learners. In this post, we’ll continue that planning conversation and cover a few ideas you can use during the summer months to ensure you understand your learners’ interests and can keep learning exciting all year long.

Know your student’s interests

We know that all learners have varying interests, and it can be a challenge to identify and cater to each individual. One idea that could help educators understand their students’ interests and preferences is to use a survey. As a starting point, focus on creating ten questions bucketed into two main sections: how students prefer to learn and what students would like to learn about. Maybe you have flexibility in your classroom environment to organize learning pods or maybe you have a community space in your school where students may prefer to work. Surveying learners can also provide them with a guided opportunity for introspective thinking about how they really do prefer to learn and what they enjoy about certain learning environments. Consider asking “why” questions to follow up on survey questions to deepen that thinking.

Identify independent learning opportunities

Using the results of your survey, develop a list of ideas you can present to your learners based on the topical interest areas they identified. Think about both short and long term ideas; some students may really enjoy a long term extracurricular project where they can put their critical thinking skills to work while others will prefer shorter term activities. Involve parents as well, by asking if there are projects at their places of employment that students could be involved in.

Partner with a flexible curriculum

In order to effectively address individual learning needs, you need to have a curriculum that can also flex with your teaching style and the ever evolving interests of students. When exploring online curriculum options, ask these fundamental questions to help guide the conversation:

  • Does the tool offer the ability to incorporate projects outside of the planned curriculum?
  • Are there ways to customize the curriculum?
  • Does the curriculum incorporate real life examples?
  • Are there tools that will help me communicate with my learners even when I’m not present?
  • Can the same program be used for first time, accelerated and credit recovery environments?

Focus on future planning

Ensuring learners are college- or career-ready is of utmost importance to all educators. Sometimes it can feel a little overwhelming understanding where to start, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Begin with a conversation about college, for example. Use the information collected in the initial survey to guide conversations with alumni. Start identifying if there are alumni of your school that would be willing to share about their college experience with. If there are barriers to in-person conversations, pivot to a written format and make your students aware of colleges alumni have attended and careers they have pursued.

A little planning over the summer can go a long ways in setting you and your learners up for a smooth transition into the new school year. Ready to start your own planning process? Check out Plato Courseware to learn how Edmentum can partner with your school or district to provide effective, flexible online curriculum!