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I am always looking for ways to make the school-to-home link. I think all too often we expect our parents to follow through, but forget that they are not always equipped with the necessary tools needed to do so. A lot of times parents don't know where to look or even what to look for in order to meet certain needs of their students. We all know that the ‘leveled readers’ at the library do not really meet phonetic or sight word needs for some readers, nor do the workbooks that can be purchased.
We can’t expect all parents to be able to teach lessons to kids if they are not familiar with the material themselves. I have some parents who struggle to help with fractions or pre-algebra homework simply because that is not something they do on a day-to-day basis like I do when teaching. And if skills are taught incorrectly, we all know how that turns out.
As the end of the school year approaches, one thing is on my mind: RETENTION. It makes no matter how much material I teach to my students from year-to-year if a third or more is forgotten over the summer. I teach to mastery, but skills need to continually be refreshed if my kids are to remember the more-than-basic concepts, especially those taught towards the onset of ‘summer-itis’.
Each spring I am on the hunt for great summer bridge books that will effectively help students stay on track through the summer without stressing parents out with trying to teach new skills. I have yet to find material that suits the need I want to satisfy without being too brief and not reviewing skills several times in the course of a book. So this year I decided to develop my own summer bridge books.
Since I have a multi-level classroom and many of my students are on advanced levels of material it doesn’t work for me to have single grade-level books. I split the books up into ‘Language Arts’ and ‘Math’ and leveled each one so they are tailored to fit the individual needs of my students. For example several of my second grade students are working on third grade math skills and fourth grade language arts skills so they will get a third level math book and a fourth level language arts book.
None of this will work though unless I break it down for my parents. The books include directions on how to implement the books. I show my parents how many days we have of summer break, including weekends, and that doing four pages each day, two out of each book, would keep skills fresh. I also know that I have a classroom of over achievers, so I’ve included additional pages for them as well in a ‘challenge’ section. The pages are simple and straightforward, making it easy for the parents to check work. The books are also travel-ready for car or plane trips, including a section where parents can place completed work. Visually this will enable students and parents alike to see progress through the books. I want these books to be user-friendly so they will be continually used through the summer. I’m also including an incentive of a trip to my treasure box in August for students who come to me with completed books.
How do you help your students maintain skills through the summer?