SmartBlog on Education will highlight summer learning and enrichment for educators during June. In this post, veteran educator Ed Bates shares how his school works with local libraries to support student learning during the summer.
Our middle school has implemented a summer-reading program to reinforce and maintain the reading skills of students during the summer months. These reading skills constitute a major portion of their ELA work, which takes place in the upcoming year, but more importantly, attempts to foster an environment where reading and library usage can be enjoyable.
Students are asked to read two books during the summer — one of their choice and one from a grade-level appropriate list. It’s our hope that we can advance literacy and academic performance by engaging students in reading during the summer months. We call upon the assistance of the public libraries to help foster a love of reading. There’s an attempt made to make reading fun and to take full advantage of what the public libraries offer in the summer, besides air conditioning.
Researchers often refer to the “summer slide” — learning loss that kids encounter from June through August. School breaks can cause the average student to lose up to one month of instruction, with disadvantaged kids losing even more. It’s our hope that students can take advantage of what public libraries have to offer and hopefully lead to better academic performance when they return to school in the fall.
Kids have to have access to books. Too many of them spend summers with no books to read. It was our hope that we could get books into the hands of kids during the summer months. In our building, when we closed the doors, the opportunity to read was also closed with them. We knew that kids who read more, read better, wrote and spelled better, and would have increased vocabularies. So we needed help. Enter the public libraries.
With the help of our public library, we were able to bring kids and families together for reading and activities. Children were encouraged to discuss, write about and report on the books they read. The library staff was very helpful in interacting with our ELA teachers to assist students in selecting reading materials. They would often go above and beyond in providing literacy enhancing programs such as storytelling, music, and creative arts.
We found that by providing the opportunity for all kids, regardless of their achievement levels, with as many reading experiences as possible, fostered a stronger climate in which the child read more on their own. This was, and is, extremely helpful with the students whose verbal abilities were in need of improvement. The activity of reading, in any form, built these capabilities. During DEAR time (Drop Everything And Read) the following year, it was found that kids were more apt to pick up a book or magazine (or even a newspaper!) and read without any prompting whatsoever.
An additional benefit to the program was very evident in the number of families that would “field trip” it to the library. Families with kids of varying ages would walk to the library together, find a spot in a particular section they were interested in, and just sit down and read. The idea of summer reading involved the entire family and fostered a climate which encouraged our kids to become lifelong library users.
Ed Bates has over 25 years experience in the classroom teaching young adults. As a certified National Trainer, he presents concepts to various school districts and universities throughout the country. He has extensive experience in implementation of NYS Common Core Mathematics Curriculum Modules, Annual Professional Performance Review (APPR), and Integration of Technology into the Classroom.