Don’t get me wrong. In the summer, I think it is essential for teachers to relax, unplug, take a break, spend tons of time with family and/or friends, and enjoy some sunny summer weather. The summer break makes us fresher in the fall and reconnects us to other parts of our lives, friends, family and personal interests that may need some attention.
But, at least for me, there’s a feeling that slowly grows in the summer where I’m restless and looking to plug back in and learn, read, create, tinker, and so on. A few teachers have asked me for some suggestions for summer learning so here are a few for when that feeling comes to you.
It’s not a brand new book but it was to me this spring. Learner Centered Innovation by Katie Martin is great. It really goes into detail with a critical lens on educational practices and provides a vision and examples what teachers can do to improve things for students by starting with them. Much of the language resonates with me because it echoes much of my own vision for education.
For Peel teachers, there are some conference opportunities both in PDSB and outside of it. If you are around later in August, the second annual Empowering Modern Learners Summer Conference is taking place at Central Peel Secondary School on August 23 and 24th. John Spencer is one of the keynote speakers! On July 5, MakerEdTO is taking place at the York School in Toronto. There is more information on their website.
But the idea I would really like to encourage is taking on a project that focuses on a passion or an interest you have. This is something I look forward to doing every summer. The idea is to intentionally outline a project you will take on over the summer that’s centred on an interest you have. Make as the goal achieving flow as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes it. The professional learning comes as a result of the reflections you make about the experience and the learning that happened.
For example, a colleague of mine decided to try oil painting. He’s not an artist. He had never oil painted. He learned quite a bit about making and the creative process. At first he wondered: how does oil painting work? He bought a book about the paintings of Mark Rothko and looked at how he did it; he read about his process. Then, he learned about equipment on the internet. Rothko was the start of it for him. He studies a maker/artist and began experimenting with tints, blending, and so on. Coincidentally, I did almost the same thing one summer but using latex paint and reading this book by Mark Daniel Nelson!
Another colleague of mine wanted to do more with coding and computational thinking with her Grade 6 students in the fall but she wanted to know more and have some skills. She explored Scratch over the summer. She wanted to get comfortable and she made a goal for herself to create a fun game for her son to play. By the end of the summer, she had made a maze game that included two levels. It worked out pretty well and she used that experience and her game example when she introduced Scratch to her students that fall.
I’ve started to get a few ideas for some summer projects. Electronics and building an AM radio from scratch is an idea. I also want to explore CoSpaces. I have dabbled with it but there is so much potential there and I want to know it and create with it to learn more.
Please leave a comment below about what you are thinking about if you are thinking about a summer learning project. I would love to read about it.