Personalized Summer Learning – For Kids

In my last post, I wrote about Personalized Professional Development for adults, which utilized Twitter, Blogging, Content Curation, and EdCamp Attendance.

But what about for kids?

When I was in junior high and high school, I had summer school, thanks to my parents who happened to be teachers (and my teachers in the summer).  Topics usually covered areas they found lacking in my public school education, so my sister and I studied anything from World History to Greek and Latin roots.  Class varied from direct instruction to a lot (at least I thought so at the time) of outside reading.  And of course there were tests.  During the summer of Greek and Latin, we had quizzes on the roots we were to memorize, and then a list of words whose definitions we had to divinate based on our new found knowledge.  For World History, I had essay exams on books I had to read.  I remember my dad returned one with the words “RE-DO” scrawled across the top with his official red Teacher Pen.  *Sigh*

A couple years later, I went off to college, became a teacher and married a teacher,  and now we have kids.  And now I understand.

Our kids are in junior high and need help with their writing.  The oldest is off to honors classes in High School next year, and I fear for her.  She is in for a rude awakening.

So….      enter Summer School: The New Generation.

At first I thought about having them read a certain number of pages each day on books my wife and I approve.  They could then journal about their daily readings. But then they are reading to fulfill my externally set objectives.  Then I thought that maybe they should be doing a book each week of their own choosing, since the objective is to read, not to do a mini American/World Lit course.  They could then complete one of several writing-based project options for each book.  Hmmm.  Nope.  Still too structured.  I have to think 21st century, and how do I learn best?  I learn using the same methods outlined in my last post, Personalized Professional Development.   So now, here’s my version for our kids’ summer (after all, who better to experiment on with new teaching techniques than your own kids?).   I think I’ll call it Authentic Summer School  Tricking My Kids Into Writing  Personalized Summer Collaboration  Personalized Summer Learning.

It will have two basic platforms:

1.  TWITTER:  By using kid-friendly hashtags such as #kidchat, or making our own, such as #summerchat or #kidchat12, my kids and your kids/students could learn from each other and share ideas just as we adults do.

2.  BLOG:  I don’t think my kids would want to have the responsibility of keeping up their blog and managing it, marketing it, etc.  I think they could really get into posting and commenting on others’ posts.  Therefore, the blog should be a communal one, with an adult officiating, and kids added on as authors upon request (and maybe the submission of a possible post).  As much as I’m into this contructivist mindset here, I do think there needs to be some guidelines:  1.  Posts must be well-written.  It’s OK if they are in a more conversational style (like this one), but they should still have proper spelling and properly punctuated, complete sentences which flow into paragraphs.  2.  Posts should be a complete piece of writing with a thesis/topic, support, and a conclusion.  3.  Comments should be constructive, and also use conventional English.

I see posts as full of pictures, descriptions of vacations, lives, books, food, video game reviews, pets, pet peeves, friends, family, local attractions, etc.  We could share our family trips to the zoo, the ocean, or to Grandma’s house in the mountains, and you could share your trip to … (fill in the blank).  I think it would be cool, relevant, and (dare I say it?) educational.

Who wants in?  Ideas?  Comments?