Summer is nearly here, and you and your students have well-deserved long weeks to rest. However lovely that sounds, this long break could have a downside. Your students could suffer from ‘the summer slide’. This implies losing level already obtained by not practising or using English during the summer. One excellent way to prevent this summer slide is by encouraging your students to read during the holidays. Here are some ideas to help your students stay on track with their reading goals over the summer. Please note that the key to success is to get parents involved and motivated to help their children stay in their reading routines and maintain their skills.
The ‘100 Checklist’ provides students with fun and imaginative challenges they must tick off over the summer. This means that children will need to read a little bit every day, no matter where they are! This helps students to get into a daily habit of reading and enjoy it too. An example of this you can see below:
The Reading and Writing Bingo Card
It allows students to pick and choose what activity motivates them most. Reading does not have to only be books, but can also be magazines, poems and crosswords. If students complete a line of activities over the summer, be it horizontal or vertical, or complete all the boxes of a specific colour, then they gain a prize they collect from you at the beginning of the next school year, or their parents can give them a prize as soon as they complete the challenge, if you have previously agreed this with them. The Bingo Card is easy to make or adapt to the needs of your students. Furthermore, you could also ask students to fill in challenges themselves before the end of term in a lesson of challenges that would motivate them. Here’s an example of a bingo card.
A Scavenger hunt is also another way to combine fun challenges and reading, and the best scavenger hunts include trying to find books at a library, be it a real library or an online library. This helps children to understand the sections of a library and how to find specific books. They will also practice their skimming skills in order to find the information they are looking for.
Answer your own questions
This is a fun activity to help students become independent learners. Ask parents to write down any questions their child asks them over the week and put them on pieces of paper, for example, “How do helicopters fly?”. On the weekend, parents choose five or six questions, and the children must find out the answers. Parents can take their children to the library or sit with them at the computer to help them search for the answer.
Signing up to websites that provide guided readers is an excellent choice, because they have been designed and adapted to grab the attention of your students and to provide them with the right level of challenge. Very often those guided readers also contain fun activities at the end of the chapter, or at the end of the book.
Pearson has a huge library of readers for both primary and secondary learners with great ‘while you read’ and ‘after you read’ activities. For example, after reading Disney’s Frozen, students are invited to experiment and learn about melting ice into water:
Check out the Pearson catalogue here.
Allowing students to make choices about what they read is very powerful. Before breaking up for the summer, design a lesson around choosing the books they want to read. For example, if students have access to readers, such as Pearson English Readers, they can choose four books that grab their attention and explain to you why they would like to read those books during the summer. If your students do not have access to readers, then choosing books from home, the library, or magazines, and making a list can be done before the end of the term. This list encourages the students to look forward to reading and to achieve their goals.
Design for students who do not have time to read due to high workload or are put off by reading in another language for sustained periods. This activity is best set up during the academic year so students can continue during the summer. Students set a time limit of 10 minutes per day to read as quickly as they can while still understanding the text. Students keep a note of how many pages they have read and where they got up to. An example of a digital log can be found here, taken from readingandwritinghaven.com, which can then be viewed at the beginning of the next academic school year to see how students did. This helps students to practice their general understanding of text and to enjoy the experience.
A fun project for students to get into over the holidays. Once students have read their book, they then create a summary of the story, identify key themes, and choose the most memorable quote. The best thing is that once several of your classes have created storyboards, you then have little summaries to use in future classes to encourage other students to choose to read books. This can be done on paper or using online graphic software, such as www.storyboardthat.com
These activities should spark some ideas to help even the most reluctant reader to read over the summer. By explaining to parents what students have to do, and getting students excited about reading, teachers can help prevent summer slide. Of course, don’t forget to choose and read a few good books yourself over the break!