This is the time, whether you are a student, parent or teacher, we know summer is approaching and it is time to plan how we will spend the next three months. But just as John Travolta and Olivia Newton John almost sang in Grease, summer “learning” happens so fast, tell me more, tell me more, tell me more… So all of us at Getting Smart, in true Blended Learning fashion, would like to offer our recommendations to students and teachers on how they can leverage technology over the summer to meet their personal learning needs. There are so many great resources out there that allow for instant access – it is very easy to go back to school in September equipped with new knowledge and skills. Whether you’re entering Kindergarten in the fall or returning as a veteran teacher, there is something for everyone. (Shoo-bop bop, shoo-bop bop, shoo-bop bop, yeah!)
1. PowerMyLearning.com – Parents looking to help their kids find specific content, students needing to focus on a certain interest, teachers searching for new online tools to add to their plans in the fall… for every level from Kindergarten to high school, powermylearning.com is an absolute gold mine! Developed by the incredible people at CFY, the non-profit in New York determined to help students, teachers, and parents use digital learning to improve educational outcomes, they have curated this completely free site, categorizing the “best of the best” free learning content out there in almost every subject area.
2. Summeradvantage.org – The summer slide has almost become an accepted fact for the typical US student, especially for those at risk, who rely on school for safety, meals and stability. In order to not only avoid summer slide but provide students with the support they need during the summer months, Summeradvantage.org has established a program aimed to take students to the next level over the summer months. Their mission states:
“We believe that if we provide rigorous academic programming and array of enrichment activities during the summer months of the primary and middle school years, then children will show significant academic gains in reading and math, improve their self-esteem, and aspire to be leaders in their families, communities, nation and world.”
3. Subtext – Summer Reading opportunities- Subtext is an iPad app that combines all the incredible features of an iReader with all the collaborative activity of social network, within the safety of a learning environment It is one of the hottest apps to hit education this year and more and more teachers are using it inside the classroom. But, during the summer, anyone with an iPad, and SOON (in June), anyone with a chromebook… can join a Subtext Summer Book Club, with book selections ranging from higher elementary to high school. There’s even a great selection of Teacher Professional Development books to join in on… so many great titles to choose from, the Getting Smart team is going to have to split up and join a few!
4. BoomWriter’s StoryTellers Camp – This camp with Diary of A Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney is not free but for $99 your young author can spend a week writing and interacting online with an award winning, famous author of one of the most popular children’s series ever. Definitely not something we could have even fathomed for our kids 10 years ago. What a memorable connection for our young, aspiring writers to make with Jeff Kinney, who writes the Wimpy Kid series, and has brought the love of reading to an absolute countless number of young readers- Now he can inspire them to love writing too!
6. Dreambox – For so many students, math is where the largest amount of summer learning loss occurs. It can be very hard to find opportunities to keep exercising those “math muscles” in your brain throughout the summer. Well, Dreambox can help solve that problem with their interactive math lessons and games! Dreambox is an individualized on-line math curriculum that can be used by schools or by parents, but the aspect that sets them apart from traditional math curriculum is that it is fun and engaging- “DreamBox makes math lessons fun and interactive, so kids build confidence and a sense of accomplishment!” This summer we even have a few “junior members” of the Getting Smart team who are looking forward to sharpening their math skills this summer with Dreambox -they are actually now looking forward to summer so they can start learning more math!
7. Maker Camp – on Google+ is too cool to miss! It is a free virtual summer camp for teens from July 8th – August 16th, where they can join in daily Google+ Hangouts to learn about different Maker projects, go on virtual field trips to amazing places, and share their own projects as well as see what others are building. The Maker movement is definitely an essential piece to keeping online learning real and hands-on for participants. Not sure if it sounds interesting? Check out last year’s first annual Maker’s Camp schedule – they had everything from how to make air compressed rockets to meeting Disney Imagineers…hard to imagine, but you know Google is going to have to out do themselves this second time around!
8. Fieldtripfinder.com – It’s time to use technology to get you up and out of the house this summer or use it as a resource while you are traveling to a new city for vacation and not sure where to take the kids. Maybe you are a teacher thinking about spicing up next year and want to find some new places to take your class for some exciting field trips. In any one of these situations, this new site, created by two very techy moms in Indiana, looks like a great place to find cool places to visit for incredible learning opportunities! It’s free, just sign up or login through Facebook and access over 24,000 interesting places for students to visit within any mile radius you choose from your exact address. Fieldtripfinder.com creates a space that “compiles educational, cultural and off-the-beaten path locations into an easy online field trip database. Users can find ratings and add details to each listing—details only a local would know, hints on how to make the most of a trip or tips to stretch your trip funds.” We went ahead and tested it out, and found a number of cool places to visit within 5 miles that we didn’t even know existed!
9. Consonus Music Institute – An awesome resource for blended learning in music education. Summer is a great time to take advantage of a little extra freedom to focus on learning or improving on music skills. CMI makes it possible for students to get the support they need to practice and move at their own pace as they learn a new instrument. It’s not a free program, but anyone can register for a free trial, which starts you off with 6 blended learning music lessons on your choice of instruments.
10. Sophia.org – If you haven’t tried Sophia yet, it would be a great thing to put on your list to explore this summer. It’s a place where you can basically try to learn or teach about almost anything you need to know in school. You can prep for the ACT here, review some subjects to ensure you are ready for college and even earn some college credit.
Sophia also has incredible learning and professional development programs for teachers. Educators looking to “flip” their classroom or introduce 1 to 1 tablets into their classrooms in the fall can become certified! Sophia provides the in depth tutorials and quizzes- teachers get to learn new skills, think creatively and come back to the classroom equipped with some great knowledge (and even a new Sophia T-shirt). This is just the tip of the iceberg… Sophia is jam packed with summer learning opportunities for everyone in education.
11. 4.0 Schools – This program, quickly growing out of New Orleans, is the place for educators to apply if they are deeply interested in solving the problems we face in education today. This innovative group of like-minded thinkers are starting lab cohorts and prepping the members with skills to address with problems through empathy, unbundling or breaking down a very complex problem, and prototyping which means looking to other industries to see how they solved problems. 4.0 Schools is starting some awesome Design Thinking Cohorts in New Orleans and New York this summer, but if you’re not close enough to those locations to join in, definitely keep 4.0 Schools bookmarked as it continues to share resources, start connections and expand their reach!
12. Professional Development MOOCs on Cousera – This summer the MOOC powerhouse, Coursera, is adding an incredible menu of MOOCs geared specifically towards K12 teachers that will cover topics including content development, the common core curriculum, character education and implementing flipped classroom and blended learning strategies. How about getting started in July with learning how to integrate art into the classroom from experts at MoMA! Take the courses for free or pay $30-$100 to jump on the “Signature Track” and receive verification and a certificate for your completion.
13. Moodle MOOC on WizQ – Teachers looking to sharpen their online teaching skills, especially using moodle can sign up for free at WizQ. Teaching with Moodle is a self-paced 4-week Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) for teachers and anyone interested in teaching online using Moodle, WizIQ, and other web technologies. The course will take place in the month of June 2013. The MOOC is in the spirit of open education and is completely free.
Click to see Haiku Deck on Summer LearningDreambox is a Getting Smart Advocacy Partner.