3 Ways To Make Summer Learning Impactful This Year
The Classroom

3 Ways To Make Summer Learning Impactful This Year

The Newsela Team
May 11, 2024

Whether in the classroom or at home, summer learning offers students the opportunity to take ownership of their learning and explore the topics that interest them. But that’s if you can get them engaged and excited about learning. And let’s face it, holding students’ attention is just more difficult as the temperature heats up and the days get longer. 

Plus, educators have to get even more creative about the types of content and resources they use in summer school or assign for at-home summer practice this year. How can you be sure that whatever materials and methods you use are going to positively impact student learning this summer? We got you covered. Here are three ways to make learning impactful this summer:

  1. Set realistic summer learning goals (and reassess them often)

  2. Prioritize self-directed learning

  3. Add social-emotional learning lessons to the summer curriculum

1. Set realistic summer learning goals (and reassess them often)

Setting realistic goals for what your students can (and will) do during summer learning is the perfect first step for making an impact. You’ve probably heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Going into a summer learning program with unrealistic expectations is another way to plan to fail. 

Try to learn as much about your summer students’ ability levels, interests, and learning needs before you even step foot in the summer school classroom. This can make it easier for you to set realistic goals and differentiate instruction to make it effective and impactful. But just because you start the summer with certain expectations doesn’t mean they won’t change. 

It’s important to reassess your summer learning goals often. Engaging your students in frequent low-stakes formative assessments all summer long helps you gain real-time insight into their understanding and growth with each lesson. These meaningful checkpoints not only let students demonstrate their knowledge and remain engaged in lessons but also provide educators with the data they need to expertly shift instruction and expectations to create the most valuable lessons for their students. 

For students learning independently at home during the summer, you can also include opportunities for formative assessments in their materials and resources to help them and their caregivers set, check, and adjust their own goals and expectations for summer learning.

Newsela’s summer learning resources include a variety of low-stakes formative assessment options, like writing prompts and reading comprehension quizzes to check students’ progress and adjust your summer learning goals. For even more in-depth formative assessment customization, try Formative by Newsela.

2. Prioritize self-directed learning

Keeping students engaged in what they’re learning is always tricky, but even more so over the summer. Encourage students to take charge of their education with a self-directed learning approach. A self-directed learning model encourages students to assess their own needs, set individual goals, explore content and resources that interest them, and choose their learning strategies.

When students are doing self-directed learning, teachers act as models or guides to help students uncover what they need to become successful in the classroom. They may ask guiding questions or present an array of content, activities, or strategies for students to use to help them find what works best for their learning abilities and needs. Engaging in self-directed learning can build motivation and engagement, encourage more student productivity in their work, and invite a shift from teacher-led instruction to student-led exploration.

Newsela’s summer learning resources for in-class and at-home instruction offer plenty of opportunities for self-directed learning across subjects. In ELA, we provide several elementary, middle, and high school novel and book studies to help build background knowledge and connections while reading popular stories, and research projects to help students dive deeper into topics of interest. Our 30-Day Summer Science Challenge invites students to sharpen their science skills through reading and experiments.

Finally, invite all students to get involved with our student-led, summer independent reading challenge. Students can read across different engaging ELA, social studies, science, and social-emotional topics of their choice to complete activities and earn tokens and badges. 

3. Add social-emotional learning lessons to the summer curriculum

In-class summer learning students may feel discouraged knowing that they have to come back to school while their peers are on summer vacation. At-home summer learning students may be annoyed with last year’s teachers or next year’s teachers for assigning homework, like summer reading, while they’re supposed to be on break. When left unaddressed, these big feelings may negatively impact student engagement and motivation for summer learning.

Adding social-emotional learning (SEL) content to your summer curriculum that addresses these emotions can help put students in the right mindset to learn and become academically successful. It can also help them see the relevancy of the lessons and reassure them that their emotions and experiences matter.

We’ve added social-emotional topics to our six-week summer reading challenge to encourage students to explore their feelings and how emotions can affect their daily lives and relationships. Some of the topics your students can explore this summer include:

  • Building empathy

  • Healing through music

  • Growth mindset

  • Self-expression

Make summer learning a breeze with Newsela resources

Setting realistic goals, encouraging student-led learning, and adding SEL content to summer learning lessons can help set you up for success. Implementing all those tips is easier than ever with summer learning resources for in-class educators and at-home caregivers. 

Aside from our great content recommendations, reading and writing challenges, and research projects, educators and caregivers also have access to:

  • Printable progress trackers to keep track of students’ reading and assignment success all summer—off the screen.

  • Monthly curated content calendars full of ready-to-go resources to fill your summer learning gaps.

  • Newsela Community educator resources to connect with other summer learning teachers to get and give tips, tricks, and advice on how to make your summer learning program the best it can be.

  • Caregiver resources for helping students log on to Newsela in the summer and ways for you to track their progress all summer long. 

Access your free summer learning resources packet and get started creating your impactful summer learning program today!

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