Professional Learning

Hip-Hip Hooray for Summer! Three Tips to Spark Your Learning

July 11, 2012

When I was a kid, some of the things I enjoyed most about summer were swimming and banana splits! Yes . . . you heard right. Banana splits! They were my fave summer treat for many years, and I will always remember them with great fondness. As this summer has started, I've seen my PLN (personal learning network) sharing great ideas of how to spend the time in fun and frolic! I've also seen great ideas posted about how to get the most out of our summer learning time. I share this simply to say that as we seek ways to do some summer learning, we need to do it in a way that (like my banana splits) we will remember fondly.

Credit: sethrader via flickr (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In my opinion, if we decide to do summer learning at all, it should be fun, meaningful and engaging. You've spent a lot of time and energy this school year working on many accomplishments. The last thing you want is to feel that "summer learning" robbed you of the opportunity to rest, relax and recharge.

So today, I offer you three tips on how to do some summer learning and still keep those banana splits coming!

1) Attend Free Webinars

Professional Development can take many shapes. Online, face-to-face and blended are typically the three major types of PD. Online PD equals scalable learning, promoting collaboration and the use of tools that can be transferred. Face-to-face equals learning more easily customized to districts, which can include onsite support and offer job-embedded learning. Blended usually combines the best of both approaches. All methods can promote teacher development and support teachers in taking control of their own learning. Some of the "hottest" topics on the horizon are how to prepare for and implement CCSS, teacher and leader effectiveness, research-based practices, EdTech integration and social media. This summer there are many FREE webinar series that you can take advantage of from the comfort of your living room or poolside. For starters, here are a few links: ASCD Summer Boot Camp Webinar Series, Simple K12 Webinars and BrainPop Webinars. I encourage you to give them a whirl and take notes on something fresh that you might want to do in the fall!

2) Join a Summer Book Club

We frequently talk about the importance of summer book clubs for our students, but don't often enough choose to do one for ourselves. Do yourself a favor this summer and jump into a summer book club with other inspired educators! Why read alone when you can join in a "coffee house" atmosphere via an on-line book read. Here are a few that I found which are just getting started: #SACHAT Summer 2012 Book Club, #educoach Summer Book Study and Team Teachers Summer Book Club 2.0. You may even be close enough to other teaching buddies to start a one as a group. Last, but not least, here is a list of books suggested for summer reading by participants in New Teacher Chat (#ntchat). It's not exhaustive by any means, but it does include titles that new and seasoned teachers thought were great summer reads. Do you have a fave that you've already started reading?

3) Jump into a Month-Long Article Read

Last week Doug Rice, a blogging buddy from the business world, shared a post called Small Business Article Reading Schedule. In this post he suggested reading a daily article during the month of July to support the business-minded in their work. I tweeted out his post, and a follower jumped on the idea and created a summer article read for educators, entitled "An Article a Day . . . Might Just Save Your Teaching Life." Natashia J. Hill, an AP teacher in Texas, shared this guest post with me. It's a collection of articles she pulled together that will inform, inspire and give teachers something to contemplate. She picked each item with loving care in the hopes that they will elicit a conversation and/or some level of change in a teacher's life. Here is a link to her calendar for July. I really love this idea and plan to create one for August. I hope that you are inspired by Natasha to take the time for completing this read!

Summer learning can be as much fun as a tasty banana split with a cherry on top, or as dreary as a rained out ball game. Either way, it's up to us whether or not we take the summertime learning plunge and make it a memorable experience. A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to share my take on summer learning with Ben Curran, a passionate educator in Michigan, who does a weekly Blog Talk Radio show. Take a listen to our 30-minute radio chat on Summer Learning for Educators. Thanks to Ben for allowing me to share my thoughts with his radio audience!

Now it's time to share yours! What actions will you take to spark your learning this summer?

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