The Summer Slide



Summer Reading Loss

In May I attended a early learning summit where two speakers; Dr. Allington and Dr. McGill-Franzen spoke about the powerful and abundant research on summer reading loss. Their review of what is known about summer reading loss was juxtaposed with reliable interventions also identified through research. Together they recently edited an important book, Summer Reading, which offers a comprehensive review of what is known about summer reading loss as well as descriptions of successful interventions by experts in the field. 


Some highlights of the research are 

most of the large reading achievement gap found at grade six could be attributed to summer reading loss 

summer reading loss is cummulative

there is powerful evidence that summer reading loss is one of the important factors contributing to the reading achievement gap between rich and poor children (access to books being and being a poor reader being two other lead factors)

better readers read more than poorer readers

there is a substantial body of evidence linking successful school experiences with motivation to read voluntarily. This requires a curriculum framework that emphasizes allowing children to select books to read that are appropriate to their level of reading development and time to read

families greater than two kilometres from a public library are less likely to use the library, which may limit summer access to books

typical summer books reading program eliminated 3 months of reading achievement loss

building on student interest can stimulate an interest in reading


The book identifies three critical strategies to counter summer reading loss for children; motivation, choice and access. Many powerful case studies were shared in their book, one of which I have selected to use, Brownies and Books.  As a classroom teacher and previous Lead Literacy teacher, I already knew that motivation, choice, access and time to read will make a difference in closing the gap between poor readers and good readers.  Being in my third year at Cinnabar I was ready to support my families and students using these three same strategies. I decided to provide parents with tools to help their child's literacy acquired during the school year maintained, refresh home reading collections and provide access to books over the summer.

Parent Make and Take Literacy Night
Together with a few colleagues we invited Kindergarten and Grade One parents to a literacy make and take evening, offering babysitting to ensure as many parents that wanted to come could. We provided them with resources to play ten literacy and math games over the summer. The parents played and talked about the games. We chose games which were easy to replicate, fun, hands on and inexpensive and emphasized that fun, short and consistent use of the games would ensure greater success.

Books For A Buck
I collected used books over the past three months from colleagues, friends and the community. During the final two weeks of school, students were invited to purchase a used book for a buck or bring books from home to exchange. We raised sixty dollars which paid for the parent event resources including babysitting and turned over at least three hundred books. Monies left over were used to purchase more used books for the new Kindergarten summer reading program. All of the leaders donated their time. 

Kindergarten Summer Reading Program
Kindergarten families from both classrooms were invited to sign up for our summer reading program. Participating families shopped my classroom the last week of school, selecting up to fifteen books to keep over the summer.  The children were encouraged to make the choices, and many chose classroom read alouds that they loved or favourite books from the classroom home reading book bags. 

I have permission from the school district to open my classroom the afternoon of July 30th, inviting parents to return for a Brownies and Book Exchange. Although all of the books in the classroom belong to me, I also had about twenty beautiful non-fiction books donated by a colleague who was weeding her teaching collection. Our PAC had just given 97.00 to each classroom for scholastic books, so I purchased forty books which should arrive in time for the July 30th exchange.

This was the first year at Cinnabar where 100% of my students finished the school year meeting or exceeding expectations for literacy. But I know that my vulnerable students are at risk to lose up to three months over the summer and my goal is to beat the odds and avoid the loss. I have lots of other ideas, but this feels like a good beginning!!! What are you doing about the summer slide?

Liz

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