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School ALL Summer

Happy Summer!

As a math teacher I am often looked to for advice for what parents should do for their children in the summer to "give them an edge" next year or "prevent summer slide."  I love the idea that parents want to help take such an active role in their child's education, and am willing to try to give my best advice.  I do not have children of my own right now so the I can only say what I would do IF I did have children. 

I was recently contacted by Personal Creations who asked if I could write a blog entry for student motivation, engagement and projects over the summer. 

Personal Creations is pretty much THE source for anything...well...personalized.  They personalize pretty much anything from picture frames,  to Christmas ornaments, and tote bags to wine bottles!  

They have a bunch of teacher stuff that is really cute:
and I would be remiss to not feature this one: 
Even though my first name is Jameson...and I am not married...But you get the idea. 

Anyway here is my take for School All Summer!

Let's break this down into the three categories.  Motivation, Engagement, Projects.  I am also going to stick with middle school math!


Honestly the KEY to keeping kids motivated to learn (particularly in the summer when their friends are all online or on video-games) is to make it MEANINGFUL for them. IF you are not opposed to rewards have your child come up with a few things that they may want.  When I tutor in the summer time I talk about this with the parents.  Usually what we do is sit down together and come up with a list of things with a different value.  The little 6th grader (going into 7th grade) that I tutor just came up with her list:

As you can see there are items that are worth small amounts of effort and items that are worth LARGE amounts of effort.  None the less these are things that she wanted to work for. And we all know when a student wants something they work hard for it.  

We then sat down and figured out how many "activities" she would need to do to EARN those things that she wanted.  It was the parent and my job to assign the "activities" but it was her job to complete them to earn her "prizes."  When it comes down to it, it is really all about goal setting.  Even with monetary prizes they are goals.  Also, as an adult I reward my self after I have done an exceptional amount of work with a cocktail, a new outfit, a vacation.  My rewards are no different than my students wish to "go to Fault in our Stars" or "go to Charming Charlie." Sometimes internal motivation is not we supplement with external.


The absolute most important thing to keep your student engaged in MATH work over the summer is to give your student choice and involve them in their learning process. 

ESPECIALLY if you have a struggling learner, you can not just give them a work book and expect them to fill any holes or maintain any learning. Students know how they learn best (reading, watching, singing, doing, drawing) and by this age they know what they are missing and need to know to feel successful in class. EVERY STUDENT CAN DO THIS. Once you ask your student what it is they feel they need to work on (or what they would like to challenge themselves with) they will feel more engaged in the work.  

The next step is to figure out what way best suits your student to learn. For my little gal, she learns best by music and manipulating.  She also said that she wanted to work on long multiplication (no Lattice), division and multi-step algebraic computation (algebra with more than 1 letter). In Minnesota these are perfect topics for her to work on as she enters 7th grade.  7th graders spend the majority of their time working with the four operations and integers for almost the first half of their year. By giving her the boost this summer she will be prepared to roll once that first bell rings!

Youtube has a TON of relevant songs and movies relating to these topics, but in order to count as an "activity" my student will have to do a reflection.  
Here is one of my favorite you tube videos for dividing fractions.  It is by Flocabulary. I still can hear little voices in my classroom singing this song!


Now is the time to get RID of the workbook.  Well maybe not entirely.  Maybe you are not the strongest at a particular subject matter for your child's grade level and creating sufficient word problems at that level you are wary about.  Fine get the workbook but just pull problems from it.  Don't give it to your child and ask them to "just do it".

We are not a Nike Commercial.

One of my FAVORITE activities to do with kids and word problems is let them act them out.  There is so many funs ways of doing this.  Let your child act out the problem with their siblings where they are the director (I.e. teaching how to do the math).  Or let your child use toys to help them understand.

You can also have them use technology at the same time.
Check out these cool kids using lego mini figures to teach about multi digit subtraction.

Hope this helps beat the dreaded "Summer- Slide"



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