Conquer Summer Slide with “Beach Bags”
I’ve been thinking a lot about “summer slide” lately, and the learning loss that happens for students over a summer of not being in the classroom. I know that a lot of schools have Summer Reading in place, but I wanted to consider what would be included in a strong, student-centered Summer Writing program.
I recently created some summer writing activities that I call “Beach Bags”: activities meant to be sent home with students and worked on over the summer. When I started designing Independent Activities, I wanted them to meet four requirements that would make them strong candidates for inclusion in a middle school’s summer program. I want to take a closer look at these requirements, using the TV Episode Review as an example.
These activities are:
These activities are specifically designed to be non-threatening to struggling readers. For example, the TV Episode Review asks students to examine plot and conflict in an episode of a TV show and then write a review. Each step is broken down, scaffolding student writing.
Each activity is designed to take 1-2 hrs, making it easily accomplishable in one or two sittings. Here’s an example of the brainstorming worksheet for an episode of “Avatar: The Last Airbender.” Each episode is 20 minutes, and it took an additional 15 minutes for students to complete the brainstorming and prewriting worksheets.
These activities specifically target skills that students have acquired during the school year. In the TV Episode Review activity, students practice RL.2 and RL.3 as they review plot, conflict, and character throughout the course of the episode. In the writing portion (the final review), they practice W.1.
You also need a way to assess the final products. Students can complete a Self-Evaluation using an included rubric. You can have students staple their brainstorming and prewriting sheets to their final review and turn in everything together. You can also choose to have students submit work electronically. Then, use the included Grading Rubric to score students.
–> Or, use Peer Grading. Have students discuss their brainstorming and prewriting sheet in pairs – Has everyone identified plot elements, characters, and conflicts correctly? Have they supported their review with examples from the TV show? Is the writing engaging?
What are you doing to combat Summer Slide this year? Let me know in comments. 😉