Summer Reading Plans: Part 1

Picture it...ocean waves splashing, the warm sun shining on your face, the sound of seagulls chirping, and the squeals of delight from young children playing. Ah yes. Summer time is in the sights, and you may even find yourself quietly visualizing this scene as you actively monitor for state testing. No, the year isn't over yet, but this is the perfect time for me to set the stage for something exciting I have in mind to support you and your students. It came to me as I was walking my dog today, and so, before the thought escapes, I want to roll the plan out to you. 
Need summer reading ideas for your child/student? Check out this post about a Cyber Book Club hosted by Comprehension Connection.

How do you help your students avoid summer slide?
We know Summer Slide happens and for me, it is really troubling. I've been teaching 25 years and throughout my career, I've watched as our children in poverty lose the most. We think and think and think some more about ways we can support these kids. We work all year on building fluency and stamina, deep thinking and written language, but it's two steps forward and one step back problem we face. I know we all hope each year will be different, and perhaps some of these ideas will help you and your students.  

Over the next few weeks, I am going to do a five part series across four different blogs. I plan to lay out Summer Reading plan ideas with a different focus on each of the collaborative blogs I'm contributing to, and I will end the series with a culminating post back here on Comprehension Connection. 

Readers Need Plans
Now is the time to lay the groundwork. You have about a month to plant your seeds, water, and fertilize them, so gardeners, let's do it! Step one is to get your kids making reading plans. They MUST have a long book list, goals to accomplish, and a way to track their progress. You could put the traditional contract together and even have them keep a reading journal that include book summaries, but I propose one of two things (if your students will have access to the internet), and here they are.
  1. Set up a Class Blog on Blogger for a place where your students can interact with you through the summer. 
  2. Share this link with your students so they can participate in one HUGE cyber bookclub using Where Wild Readers Roam as the platform. By May 15th, I will post the details for the kids, parents, and teachers that might be interested in following and/or participating in it.
Summer Book Club
How many of you are part of a book club?  How many of you actually read the book?? Okay...I know the answer to that, and with this project, I hope we actually get the kids reading. I think the key is choosing the right books, and this is where your help is needed. I have a long list of book choices in my head, but we couldn't possibly do them all.

Book clubs could work really well with younger children (primary grades) if a parent were meeting with them face to face and doing group discussion. Little people don't have the tech skills to navigate and respond appropriately (in most cases), so my target audience for this idea is fourth and fifth grades, and since we want both boys and girls to join in, the book choices need to appeal to most children. I know many of our readers will be either above or below grade level, but for this project, I'll target grade level text. If you do not think grade level texts would work for your kids, then you may wish to go with option number one and get a class blog going.

If you'd be so kind, I would love help in selecting the books for this project. Throughout the week, I'll post discussion questions, project ideas, and writing prompts to guide the kids in their reading. As I develop the plan more completely, I'll try to figure out a way for participants to share photos of their work, etc. They will have the option to comment and share to their parent's comfort level, but commenting will not be required for participation. 
Which titles would you choose?  
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We have worked so hard this year, and who wants their students to forget everything they learned? Keeping kids reading during the summer is one way to prevent Summer Slide, and I hope this idea supports you and your kids. We want Wild Readers, and I look forward to making use of an otherwise dead blog for a great purpose! Let's keep them reading!

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