Making the SUMMER WORK for You and Your Students
It seems as if time is flying by, and with the summer break on the horizon, days feel more like minutes. I've often commented that while the common perception is that students and educators have the summers off, in reality, there is summer work to be done. I would like to offer a few suggestions for both the student and the educator seeking educational opportunities during the time away from the classroom.
For the Student: The Summer Assignment
Many high-ability students already have a jam-packed summer. In this way, students can experience learning outside of the classroom, an opportunity that is all too often lost during the rigor of daily assignments. Over the years I have assigned a myriad of "summer work” assignments, and only recently my colleagues and I settled on incorporating activities the students may already be participating in as part of their work. (Ed. Note: In his daylight hours, Jeff teaches at La Salle Academy in Providence, RI.)
The following ten suggestions come from a much larger Summer Work Packet distributed to our incoming seventh-grade and rising eighth-grade students. I hope you will find these suggestions helpful.
1. Visit a museum and write a two-paragraph summary of your experience. The first paragraph should be about the museum in general, and the second paragraph should be about the one or two most interesting things you encountered at the museum.
2. Conduct an interview with a person who lived in a different country for at least one year since 1980. The goal of your interview is to find out about some of the cultural markers of the country in which the person lived.
3. Participate in a class or workshop that may be held at a camp, public library, YMCA, school, youth organization, etc. Upon completion write a two-paragraph summary of your experiences, including what you learned.
4. Write a piece of creative writing that could be a collection of poetry, a short play, or a fiction story.
5. Attend a performance and create a poster advertising the event OR write a two-paragraph typed review of the event.
6. Create a travel advertisement that is either a recorded jingle or a tri-fold brochure about a place you visit this summer.
7. Read a young adult novel and develop a creative project to promote the book.
8. Design a reading timeline of your reading experiences that include at least 10 events from your lifetime, starting from your earliest memory of books and ending in the present.
9. Create a Web Page on a well-known scientist or environmentalist.
10. Create a Travel Blog to document your travels (real or imaginary) over the summer.
You may not know that NAGC has a Resource Directory, complete with suggestions and advice on how to choose the perfect summer opportunity. I refer many of my students' parents to this outstanding resource. Check it out today!
For The Educator: Summer Professional Development
Attending a professional development conference in the summer is quite different than during the year. In the summer, , I think that the chance to interact with other educators from all over the country is worth waiting for. Professionally, there is nothing greater than learning from educators willing to share their stories, expertise, and ideas.
Perhaps you have experienced the excitement of a summer conference, and like me, cannot wait for the minute you depart. Maybe you have been contemplating attending one near you but something always came up. Quite possibly, you may never have even thought about going. If that is the case, I urge you to give it a shot. The NAGC Annual Convention is coming in November, but don't miss these summer conferences I have listed below. There is sure to be one close to you!
Hormel Foundation Gifted and Talented Education Symposium, June 10 – 14
The Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary Professional Summer Institute, June 21 -22
The University of Connecticut's Confratute, July 8 – 13
Boise State's Edufest, July 22-27
And don't forget about the NAGC Live Learning Center where recordings of the many Webinars on Wednesdays (WOW), plus past Convention sessions, will be available 24/7 all summer.