Like most teachers, I am relishing every moment of summer, but before we know it the days of grading papers and creating dynamic lesson plans will be upon us. Therefore, let's live each day of the next few weeks to the fullest so we can return to our classrooms refreshed and ready to go.
Like most teachers, I am relishing every moment of summer, but before we know it the days of grading papers and creating dynamic lesson plans will be upon us. Therefore, let's live each day of the next few weeks to the fullest so we can return to our classrooms refreshed and ready to go. Here are my top five ways to celebrate summer. You can use these tips to make the most of your time off and rejuvenate yourself and your teaching as well!
1) Home, Sweet Home!
Maybe your area is known for its incredible beaches or its breathtaking scenery. Or perhaps there are special features that make your home truly unique. Whether you are in a rural or urban setting, each of us has something in our surroundings that we can take back to our classrooms for discussion. For example, maybe you have an amazing farmer's market that can inspire a lesson on organic farming or hydroponics. In Buffalo I find our Thursday at the Square really gets my creative wheels turning. One of the best ways to celebrate summer is by rejoicing in your surroundings.
2) Take in a Movie Under the Stars
What better way to watch the latest flick while learning about technology at the same time? Creating a backyard movie theater is an inexpensive and easy way to enjoy family time and brush up on tech skills. For beginners, this is a perfect opportunity to learn about multimedia projectors and their importance in the classroom. Many teachers are curious about using technology, but are unsure where to begin. An evening at home is the perfect occasion to master these skills, especially if you have children, who can be the best teachers themselves.
3) Make a To-Do List
Throughout the school year, and especially on my toughest days, my mind drifts to thoughts of how I will spend my summer. I find that jotting down a few goals for myself really helps me take advantage of my time off. Whether it's spending extra time with family and friends or visiting that must-experience destination, committing to treating yourself for all of your hard work is essential. Start the year off confident that you enjoyed this precious gift we are given each summer.
The to-do list is a great motivating tool for students as well. I've found that most students, especially struggling learners, can have too much time on their hands. This can lead to negative outcomes unless they have things to keep them busy throughout the summer months. We often forget that this blessing can be a curse to some students. By encouraging students to make a to-do list, we provide them with a chance to start setting goals for themselves and hopefully return to our classrooms with a positive attitude and a sense of accomplishment.
About halfway through the summer I begin to feel restless and find myself looking for ways to use my brain. Practice some great classroom techniques and use your noggin in the process by trying out some new games. My favorite is a low-cost, fun game called Paperback. Grab your closest friends and a bunch of paperback books and place them in a pile. Pass out a few scrap pieces of paper to each person. Then designate one person as "the picker." The picker chooses a book and reads the description on the back to the others, who write down what they think could be the first line in the story. The picker submits the real answer with the other submissions, and they're all read aloud and voted upon. One point is given to the person with the most votes and two points to the person with the correct answer. Continue until everyone has a turn. The winner chooses a book to take home with them. This is a great game to play with your students and can be used as a preview for the fall books.
5) "Summer in Sixty"
Here's a great way to put all of those vacation pictures to good use. For this activity, you upload your favorite snapshots into Microsoft Movie Maker or Photo Story, but the catch is you are limited to 60 seconds of film time! This is an amazing back-to-school project for students who can't wait to show you how they celebrated summer. See one that I made to give you a quick idea. For more on the power of digital storytelling, join me this fall when I write about how to implement this effective tool into your classrooms.
For more resources on how to make the most of your summer, visit The George Lucas Educational Foundation's Edutopia Web site. I would also LOVE to hear how you celebrate the summer months!