For most elementary, middle and high school students, summer vacation (if their school operates on a traditional 9 month calendar) is synonymous with summer reading assignments. Depending upon the grade level, these assignments can vary in format ranging from a simple book report to in depth projects that support their curriculum including Science, Language Arts, Social Studies, and Math. It continues to be a staple of work for students to complete during their 3 months of freedom. This can be a challenge for kids that are not leisure readers as well as kids that enjoy reading. In both cases, it is not something that most students get excited about. Nevertheless it has to be done, so approaching it with a positive attitude is half of the battle.
I used to dread summer reading because it seemed like an insurmountable task (we read SO much during the school year!). Why have more reading during our “vacation”? Despite not wanting to do the reading, I felt fortunate that I had a solid three months to complete it. A piece of cake, right? Not quite. Typically many students wait until the latter part of their summer vacation to start reading (I did that a few times and suffered the consequences), but this is not the best approach. After doing nothing related to school for a couple of months, it is difficult for the average student to “flip the switch” and get into work mode. The best way to complete summer reading and its related assignments is to create a schedule (spread it out over the summer) and stick to it. It will reduce anxiety and make the work more manageable. In addition, it will help one be successful if there is a test covering the reading on the first day of school. Here are three ways students can be accountable for summer reading assignments and truly benefit from it.
1. Use a Journal (pencil/pen and paper) - Find a notebook you like and use it for writing thoughts about the reading. Composition books and 1 subject notebooks are excellent choices. Younger students may enjoy decorating a plain notebook with stickers and drawings.
2. Parents can model using a journal - If parents have a journal for their reading, use it as an example. If not, provide your child with a sample journal entry. They can write whatever comes to mind as they read, but their entries should also have some substance. Go beyond writing about main characters and major events that take place. This is accomplished by being an active reader and writing reflective responses. Active Readers ask questions prior to starting the book, identify and define unfamiliar vocabulary, make notes in the margins, make inferences and use background knowledge to help with comprehension. Here are three examples reflective responses to questions that can be asked when reading: A. What connections are there between the book and your life. Explain. B. What was the author saying about life and living through this book? C. Discuss how (character) shows his/her personality by his/her actions
7 Keys To Comprehension by Susan Zimmerman is an excellent resource describing how students can better comprehend what they read.These skills can be taught to students of all ages.
3. Use a digital journal- With readily available and often free “cloud” technology, it is easy for one to access their documents from anywhere at any time. Some great apps that are designed for note taking are Evernote, Spring Pad and Simple Note. These are excellent alternatives for students that don’t enjoy writing but like using a computer or tablet.
What methods do you use to keep yourself accountable for summer reading? Leave a comment sharing your thoughts and ideas?