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Today's One Thing for Teachers: Summer Learning – How to Continue Engagement and Fill Gaps

Bianca Davila

Bianca Dávila

The Learning Accelerator

Students face summer learning loss every year, but with the abrupt shifts experienced as classrooms moved to remote learning, gaps in student mastery seem even more likely and severe. Further, as the school year winds down, many students would normally have opportunities for enrichment and/or intervention via summer school, summer camps, or tutoring, but for many, these traditional in-person methods of summer support may no longer be options. This leads us to our series’ final big question: how can we address learning gaps remotely after the school year has ended?

When planning for summer learning opportunities, consider not only the content students need to address but also the way they engage with the content and who else can participate to support engagement, interaction, and a fun learning experience. Beyond being a time for gap-filling, summer learning should also be interactive and an opportunity to explore topics and interests beyond the classroom. Here are two approaches to think about when designing a summer learning plan.

1. Resources a teacher can provide for independent, self-paced learning.

While class won’t be in session, there are still some ways teachers can offer direction for students’ independent learning. There are numerous resources that offer classes, modules, and standalone tools for kids to explore on their own. Remember that being an independent learner is a skill, so if your student hasn’t created independent learning habits, explore this piece around setting up a structure and strategies to support your student.

  • Camp Kinda offers a free, virtual “summer camp” experience for K-8 students. Designed for students to work as independently as possible, this program features daily playlists themed around a different topic and includes both online and offline activities. This listing of virtual summer camps offers links to additional options for students.
  • Outschool offers over 15,000 virtual classes for students ages 3-18 on a wide variety of topics including academic subjects, life skills, and student interest. Check out their summer camp series for recurring classes.
  • Leverage online learning platforms for content-specific activities.
    • STEM: PhET Labs offers interactive STEM simulations.
    • Social Studies: Big History Project covers 13.7 billion years of history from the Big Bang and ending in the future. Each chapter involves interactive activities and quizzes.
    • ELA: NoRedInk is an adaptive and personalized learning program for writing and grammar. Epic! Is a digital library for kids 12 and under that offers videos and quizzes to support readings.
    • Multiple subjects: IXL personalized online learning experiences for students K-12 in nearly every subject. Khan Academy provides personalized learning dashboards primarily focused on STEM, but it also offers courses in social studies and grammar. Check out their summer learning schedules differentiated by grade level and their weekly math learning plans. CK-12 offers free, online textbooks, adaptive courses, and study guides for all of the core content areas. Their summer prep courses can help students prepare for the upcoming school year.
  • Encourage students to set summer learning goals. These goals can serve as intrinsic motivators for students to engage in learning throughout the summer. Check out EdNavigator’s summer learning plan template.

2. Resources families can explore together.

How can families more directly and collaboratively support student learning opportunities? With few touchpoints with teachers or school administrators over the summer, caretakers might need to play an even more central role in crafting a learning plan for the summer. Learning together can help students stay engaged with learning content and enjoy some quality time with family. Involving parents, siblings, and other family members in various learning activities – both as acts of co-learning and to support targeted skill-building – ensures students feel supported and may even be an opportunity for younger siblings to stretch their learning.

  • Engage grandparents and other relatives outside of the home in learning activities with younger students by using Caribu. This app integrates family video-calling with children’s books and other activities so that families can engage together from afar.
  • Share ReadWriteThink’s parent resource page to help provide parents with ideas for how to engage their children with ELA activities throughout the summer. Activities and resources are separated by grade level and provide suggestions for parents on how to help their children with certain content-specific issues that might arise.
  • Start with a Book! provides parents with suggestions for what their children might like to read based on their interests and shares activities, websites, and other learning experiences to support each reading.
  • WideOpenSchool provides parents with daily activities targeted toward different age groups. Activities and resources range from core academic content to life skills and digital citizenship. The site also provides links and resources to connect families with essential services.
  • ¡Colorín colorado! offers bilingual resources in Spanish and English to help support learning at home for families who are learning English. They provide activities for multiple content areas as well as other bilingual resources for support.
  • The National Summer Learning Association (NSLA) has compiled and categorized resources for families to support learning at home. They cover literacy, STEM, the arts, wellness, and more.
  • Learning Heroes provides parents with a roadmap for at-home learning beginning with readiness checks for different subjects, suggested learning schedules, and online resources for families and students.

We here at TLA appreciate and admire the incredible work being done by educators across the globe to care for and support students and families. We hope Today’s One Thing has been a helpful resource, and we are here for continued support. Please reach out to with any questions!

Bianca Davila

Bianca Dávila

The Learning Accelerator

Bianca Dávila is Chief of Staff at The Learning Accelerator. She blends her expertise and passion for educational leadership, team culture, process innovation, and organizational management to support the TLA team.