Monday, April 30, 2007

Summer Literacy Activities: More than Just Reading

It’s relatively easy to send students off at the end of the term with book lists and encouragement to read during the summer vacation. Literacy, however, involves more than just reading. In addition to providing a book list, why not share a list of possible activities that students and families might tap during the summer? You can work off the activities that you have completed as a class during the school year as well as tap these possibilities:

  • Invite students to keep a journal or diary. You might begin the process by making small journals during the last days of the year for students to fill during the summer. Older students might keep blogs on one of the many free online sites. You might suggest that students write about their readings, special events, or simply day-to-day activities.

  • Suggest students create their own comics with the Comic Creator or drawing their comics by hand. Students might draw favorite or missing scenes from their readings, create original comics for existing (or new) characters, and compose comics from events from their summer activities.

  • Demonstrate how students can use the ReadWriteThink Printing Press to create newspapers, brochures, flyers, and booklets. Whether they are responding to readings, films and movies, televisions programs, or personal events, students can use the Printing Press to publish their thoughts. Additionally, students can create family publications about vacations or special events, publications with their friends about hobbies or special trips, and personal publications that focus on their special interests.

  • Have students create alternative book covers or CD/DVD covers for books they have read, albums they listen to, and films they have seen. Or have students create original covers for their own writing, playlists they compile, and films they make (or would like to see).

  • Ask students to write letters to friends, family, and one another using the Letter Generator. Students might use the tool to compose letters to family members in other parts of the country or to share details from their vacation with friends at home.

  • Tap students’ inner muses by asking them to compose original poetry about their summer activities using the Acrostic Poem, Diamante Poem, or Shape Poem tools.

  • Invite students to create their own postcards for places they visit or would like to visit using the Postcard Creator. In addition to sharing images and words on the trips they take, students can also make postcards that might be sent by characters in books they read and films they see.

Do you have additional summer literacy activities that you suggest to families? I’d love to hear from you, whether you suggest specific reading activities or books, encourage composing over the summer months, or urge families to explore literacy with photographs, films, or other media? Just use the comment feature here to tell me about summer learning activities that you have suggested to families and the feedback you’ve received.


Teri Lesesne said...

How about creating a wiki that is accessible only by students in a particular class or those reading a specific book? Wikis offer a chance for kids to build on one another's responses to a book. And how aout giving kids a chance to come together at the public library during the summer for a quiet place to read and a chance to talk to others about books? Collaboration with other literacy organizations is one of the keys to successful programs.


Susi said...

Here are a couple of ideas that I have used to encourage summer reading and writing.
Toward the end of May, I take a beach bag into the classroom; I even through in a beach towel and sandles to dress it up. I explain to the students that I'm going to share some of my summer reading with them, and then I will pull out a book that I intend to read, talk about the book, read the blurb, and tell them why I want to read it. Then, I drop it into the bag. I have even asked other teachers to stop by my room and talk about books that they would recommend for my summer reading. I have found that students are often interested in what the gym teacher or coaches, music and art teachers, and yes, even the principal are recommending. These books can be new, or old favorites, books that are being made into movies, or books that they might be reading as part of the curriculum next year.
The students are welcome to browse through my book bag and offer their own suggestions for my summer reading. I then ask students to think about books that they might want to read over the summer and begin to make up a "book list" of their own. Whenever possible, I try to schedule a trip to the library or have the local librarian come into the classroom, and talk about the new summer arrivals that they might want to consider adding to their list.
Then I give the students my e-mail address and encourage them to write to me about the books that they have been reading. (I also get parents permission for this communication.) I was surprised last year, when one of my students started a "list" of students that were book chatting. We had quite an electronic conversation about the books they were reading, and I learned a lot about text messaging!
I also wanted to build on an idea that Traci shared in this blog. It is something that I do all year with my students. When they select a new book to read, I ramdomly place between 6-8 4X6" index cards in the book. The last index card goes on the last page and I usually use a yellow card; this acts as a signal card to me that the book has been finished. Then I tell the students to "send me a postcard, when you get there". The post card should have a drawing on one side, and information about what has been happening in the book on the other side. They date stamp these in one corner, and drop them into a mailbox that I have at the back of the room. This lets me know how their reading is progressing, and I can put a post-it on the card, asking for questions or clarifications. I keep these in a file box, and when I get the yellow index card, I return the whole stack to the students to use to write their book report or give and oral "book chat" about the book to a group or the whole class. The date stamps let me know how often the student is reading, and I get insights into how well they can capture the plot and characters in short writing pieces. These can also be good talking points during parent teacher conferences.
Enjoy your own summer reading!!