Effective summer strategies to accelerate learning

May 6, 2021The Nearpod Team

Over the last year, learning loss has been a consistent topic of public discussion. As the academic year comes to a close, there is no dispute that a summer learning program is the opportune time to address individual needs head-on. If we meet each and every student where they are to accelerate learning, focusing on specific skill areas or benefit from social emotional support, we increase the likelihood of having a significant impact.

The current administration agrees and specifically set aside $1.2 billion from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) to build evidence-based summer programs. Additionally, the U.S. Department of Education is teaming up with the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Associations to launch a new Summer Learning & Enrichment Collaborative to support learning for students most impacted by school closures.

Even with support from the federal government, developing summer learning programs to meet the needs of all students can be challenging. We’re here to help.

Simply extending instruction into the summer months won’t be enough to recoup learning loss and get students back on track. Building an effective program will require an intentional focus on accelerating learning as well as supporting the whole child.

As you and your colleagues are refining plans for summer programming and preparing to welcome students enrolled, here are a few strategies that you’ll want to consider to help drive student success:

Get a baseline of student understanding with formative assessments

With all the challenges that came with distance and hybrid learning this past year (inconsistent attendance, standardized tests not administered, etc.), it may have been difficult to track student progress (or perhaps loss). Utilizing formative assessments at the start of your summer program gives the teacher insight into student comprehension along with knowledge and skill levels, without the intimidation of formal tests. Continued use throughout the program allows students to have control over their own learning path by providing immediate feedback to the student and teacher. In turn, with information on exactly how the student is interpreting the material, teachers can support the student with targeted and focused instruction.

Support students’ social- emotional and academic development with SEL embedded in core instruction

In addition to accelerating learning, helping young people recover from the social isolation and trauma of the pandemic will be a key goal of any effective summer program. By incorporating lessons on social-emotional learning into core instruction, educators can help students access their feelings and emotions, develop healthy identities and build positive relationships while giving them the tools they need to succeed academically. Doing so can be as simple as a 5 minute activity where students practice self-management by sharing some of their most helpful habits.

Provide opportunities for extracurricular activities and enrichment

Students missed out on more than instructional time during distance and hybrid learning.  And as such, summer programming shouldn’t be limited to academics. Ideally, your district will have the option to partner with local organizations, parks and recreation departments to provide students with various opportunities to get outside of the classroom and reconnect with their peers while learning a new hobby or skill. Though if that’s not a possibility, don’t discount virtual experiences. Providing equitable access to all, virtual experiences allow students from all backgrounds to travel the world, try-on a variety of careers, and more!

No matter how you and your fellow educators decide to tackle summer learning for students, know that Nearpod is here to support through planning, execution and providing a space for educators to learn from one another.

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