Staying Connected with Students All Summer Long
To say the last days of school are my favorite days would be a bit of a stretch. It's not the crazy end of year events, the incredible buzz of excitement, the parties, or continuous interruptions that make it hard though. It's saying goodbye to students knowing that this is the last time this community will be together exactly like this. Though students will wander through to visit from time to time, I'll never really know what everyone is doing. This exact group will never sit around in a circle again and share our writing. We'll never sit together and laugh over a book. First graders realize this, and they're always sad about the end too.
While it is a challenge to stay connected with students for years to come, I am working to keep them connected as a community through the summer. They were a bit disappointed on the last day to think they would not be together next week. I reminded them that our blog would be open throughout the summer and that they were welcome to post. We talked about ideas they might want to share on the blog over the summer: exciting news, vacations, summer fun, new books, and hobbies.
I've always wanted to keep students reading and learning over the summer. In the past, I've created book lists, packets, learning calendars, and other learning materials. I'm doubting those got much use, but they were there if parents wanted them. With technology, keeping kids connected and learning couldn't be easier.
Here are a few ways I hope to stay connected with students and their families across the summer.
Kidblog: I'm hoping we'll be able to keep our community connected across the summer on Kidblog. Each year the number of summer bloggers grows. Last year, I held a "It's Monday, What Are You Reading" event similar to the blog event. Students knows on Monday I will post a book they might be interested in reading on Merely Learning Together. Students can also post their reading or comment on my post to share. My hope is to get students to the blog one time each week to keep them writing and connected.
Shelfari: In the last weeks of school we took time to reflect on all we had read together across the year. Students loved poring back over our shelf to rediscover titles we had loved. We then took some time to add books we thought we might want to read over the summer. Readers wanted to add many of the "next books in a series" we had read, books we hadn't read by favorite authors, and books students recommended from home. We talked about how this resource might be the perfect place to find books before a library visit.
Symbaloo: Symbaloo is a visual bookmarking tool that allows you to link to favorite sites. On our class page, I have linked two Symbaloos. One collection of bookmarks is for literacy sites students might enjoy and the other is for math. Across the summer I will add new links to these pages so students can continue to learn.
Pinterest: For parents, I have created a Pinterest class page. It still needs some work, but I've started boards for apps, books, crafts, local family events, and other information parents may find useful for keeping students learning across the summer.
Weebly News Site: Merely Learning Together, our Weebly class webspace, has been the perfect hub for news, shared blogging, embedding our class Symbaloo, linking book trailers, sharing photos, updating calendars, and talking about all we are learning. Over the summer I will be updating the page with information parents may want to know, and links that will keep students learning.