Summer, a time of rest and relaxation for students and teachers alike. But, for some teachers and students, summer school is also on the agenda.
Your summer school classroom will contain diverse learners. Differentiating for your students will be important. One tool I have successfully used in the past is the “Who Was…?” series.
This series of nonfiction texts provides teachers with many levels to choose from. It also allows for students to select historical figures or individuals that interest them. The books are also just long enough for a four week summer read.
Daily Lesson Examples from my Own Classroom
In my classroom, many students had vocabulary goals. We started each literacy day with independent reading of their text. During the read, I circled the room and reviewed how to use context clues. Students then kept a journal of at least three words of the day they struggled with. They used context clues and then a dictionary to ensure their understanding was correct.
Tools like Smart Start Comprehension Activity Cards can help you assign comprehension and strategy questions based on each child’s need. They also allow for an individualized but common task. One thing I like about the cards is that they all look the same. Students appear to be doing the same task. Although this is the appearance, the teacher has the ability to select appropriate cards for each student’s skill level. Differentiated instruction is easily applied.
Focusing on inferencing? These Inference Maker E.Z.C. Readers can be used as students read the text independently. You can also conference with students in small groups or individually and use these cards as a tool.
At the end of summer school, I held a gallery walk in my classroom. Each student created a 5Ws poster on the person they chose to read about in the Who Was series. They also drew a large picture of their individual. As classmates rotated around the room, they shared knowledge with their peers. They also all chose one interesting fact that they learned.
In addition to the in classroom gallery walk, my students invited the rest of the summer school classrooms to come learn about their topics. Each student set up a desk in the hallway. They displayed their 5Ws poster behind them and came up with an activity that went along with their topic. In addition, each wrote a paragraph to teach the other classes what they’d learned.
The activities were amazing. The student who studied Harry Houdini taught students a coin trick. The student who studied King Tut helped students write their names in hieroglyphics. The student who studied Edison had her peers color a light bulb then helped them label the parts.
Fun for All
When I used these texts in my summer school classroom, my students were so excited. They couldn’t wait to share with their classmate all the knowledge they were gaining. The Who Was series is a wonderful resource for summer and in your regular classroom too!
What texts have you successfully used in your summer school classroom?