Everything Summer!

Summer Writing

A few days ago, I tried to convince a fabulous reading teacher to switch over to our writing team.  Her response was, “Absolutely not.  Teaching writing is too hard.”  Upon further conversation, she revealed that she didn’t see herself as a strong writer and hated writing in front of her students, although she realized how important modeling and thinking out loud are to student learning. This reminded me of the many teachers that we’ve spoken to over the years who resist teaching writing simply because they themselves don’t feel confident as writers or enjoy writing.  So, it occurred to me that as you are resting, relaxing, and catching up on reading, summer is also the perfect time to begin a writer’s notebook and discover (or rediscover) your passion for writing.  

According to Ralph Fletcher, author of numerous books for young writers and writing teachers, “A writer’s notebook is a blank book where a writer can engage in the fun, often messy job of being a writer – practicing, listening, playing with language, gathering images and insights and ideas. The purpose of such a notebook is to nourish the writer… such a notebook… is one of the most essential tools of the trade.  Use your notebook to breathe in the world around you. You can write about:

1) What amazes/surprises/anger you
2) What you wonder about
3) What you notice
4) “Seed Ideas” or “Triggers” to generate stories or poems
5) Small details that intrigue you
6) Snatches of talk you overhear
7) Memories
8) Lists
9) Photos, articles, ticket stubs or other artifacts
10) Your own sketches, drawings or doodles
11) Quotes or inspiring passages from books or poems  

 Remember these tips:

  • Keep your notebook with you so you can write at any place and time.
  • Pull your notebook out whenever you have a few minutes with nothing else to do.
  • The notebook you keep should reflect you. If you like to draw, draw in your notebook.
  • Writing can be fun. Your notebook is a place to enjoy writing.”
  • The best teachers of writing are writers themselves.  The best strategy to improve student writing is to have your students watch and listen to you as you write and think aloud.  To do this, you MUST be comfortable with writing.  
  • A writer’s notebook is the perfect place for you to begin your own personal journey as a writer.

  10 Things Every Teacher Should Do This Summer

From the WeAreTeachers.com blog, we found a bucket list of summer activities:

  • We all know the temptation to start planning for next year, but take a break from everything “teaching” for one week. Or two. Maybe an entire month. You’ll be better when you come back to it.
  • Read a book that’s just for grown-ups.
  •  If you have your own kids, let them plan one wandering, wild, carefree day. The kind that’s hard to have when there are piles of papers to grade.
  • Whether or not you have kids, plan one of those carefree days for yourself!
  • Take this challenge: Go to Target and buy NOTHING for your classroom. Can you do it?
  • Make an investment in your professional life that matters to you. Maybe that’s taking a course on a topic you’ve always wanted to learn about. Maybe it’s catching up on this year’s Newbery winners. Whatever your interests, summer is the time for professional development on your terms.
  •  Make it a goal to connect with a colleague you don’t know very well or with whom you haven’t always seen eye to eye. A summer barbecue or coffee outing is a nice opportunity to get to know one another outside of school walls … and established teacher cliques.
  • Work on a “feel-good file” that reminds you about the good parts of your job. Include thank-you notes from students, inspirational quotes, that mantra from your favorite teaching professor-whatever makes you think “Yes. This is why I teach.”
  • As soon as you get that new class list, reach out to every student on it and say hello. You don’t have to do anything fancy or Pinterest-worthy-a simple phone call does the trick. (And it may be the most important step in setting yourself up for success next year!)
  • Remember, summer break is like New Year’s Eve for teachers: Grand expectations can lead to disappointment. It’s OK if you don’t read every book, finish every house project or cut out every last decoration for next year’s bulletin boards. It’s OK if you don’t have a traditional summer break or are working a second job too. The next few months will still be filled with small, simple joys. Look out for them! 


Summer Reading

Now that summer is almost upon us, it’s time to think about some summer reading. While we’ve been recommending books all year, this list from Instructor Magazine has been developed especially for teachers by teachers.

                       The Ultimate Summer Reading List for Teachers

Summer Websites for Students
Here are twelve engaging educational websites to keep students learning through the dog days of summer:

  1. Art Games: www.kids.albrightknox.org/loader.html – Students can design their own abstract paintings online, learn about pioneering artists, and explore painting techniques.
  2. Great Websites for Kids: http://gws.ala.org – Dozens of recommendations for exemplary websites for students up to age 14, curated by members of the Association of Library Service to Children.
  3. NGA Kids: www.nga.gov/kids – The National Gallery of Art website features the Photo Op program, which allows kids to use a virtual camera to take pictures and experiment with photo-editing tools; they can also create virtual paintings, assemble collages, and explore art history.
  4. National Geographic Kids: http://kids.nationalgeographic.com/kidsandNational Geographic Education:http://education.nationalgeographic.com – Photographs and videos of animals and natural environments, links to encyclopedia resources, craft ideas, puzzles, and quizzes.
  5. Oxford Owl: www.oxfordowl.co.uk – More than 250 free e-books, and kids can print, illustrate, and construct their own picture books, play games to test their comprehension, and do math activities.
  6. Pass the Plate:http://tv.disney.go.com/disneychannel/passtheplate/index.html – Nutritious recipes from all over the world.
  7. PBS Kids: http://pbskids.org – Videos from Word Girl, Arthur, and The Electric Company, and places to create comic strips, create and mix global beats, test-drive a space flyer, and do an experiment in the Inventor’s Workshop.
  8. Science NetLinks: http://sciencenetlinks.com/tools – The American Association for the Advancement of Science has interactive games, podcasts, information on the inner workings of the body, and science news written by young readers.
  9. USA.gov Kids: http://kids.usa.gov – The WebRangers game simulates being a national park ranger, and students can practice cryptology and code breaking, explore the 50 states, discover health careers, learn tips for saving money, and listen to stories from Peace Corps volunteers.
  10.  Wonderopolis: http://wonderopolis.org – Each day, this site explains a new “wonder” of daily life, for example, how to create harmony, why zebras have stripes, and where buffalo roam.
  11. Word Mover: Available free through iTunes – Kids can create “found poetry” by choosing from word banks and remixing famous works.
  12. iWASWondering: http://iWASwondering.org – Inspired by the middle-school biography series, Women’s Adventures in Science, this site has brief biographical information and interactive games, including a virtual telescope.



  1.  Classic literature summer reading list – The National Endowment for the Humanities sponsors this K-12 list of Summertime Favorites:


A Writer’s Notebook
Written for children but perfect for adults, too, A Writer’s Notebook offers practical advice on how to begin a writer’s notebook and use it as a starting point for creative writing.

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