We have definitely experienced a challenging couple of months in the world and in our roles as educators. The summer break is the time to focus on taking time to reflect, relax, and recharge. It is also the time for us to engage in learning experiences for ourselves as well as provide some options for our students.
Finding new ideas and activities, that will not only push us to learn but can help us all with focusing more on self-care, mental health and wellness, is important. There are many engaging and fun opportunities that can help to keep the learning going and provide ways for us all to explore new ideas and interests. It is also a good opportunity while we have a period of time away from school, to find resources that connect us with authentic learning experiences.
Through conversations with colleagues and educators who teach the arts, music, and elective courses including physical education, I learned that the shift to remote learning was even more difficult initially. For these courses, the instruction relies heavily on hands-on activities, in-person collaborations, or sometimes specific equipment and class demonstrations. Each of these requirements would present a challenge in planning during the school closures as well as over the summer, when many schools provide learning opportunities and camps related to these areas for their community.
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As we think about summer options for either taking a break throughout the day or looking for ideas to use in the future, it is important to focus on options that will provide more than just learning experiences related to the content. Engaging in activities that will help to get us moving more will help all of us with our self-care, and in particular with mental health and wellness.
Exploring new ideas and skills in the summer
Summer typically means more time for outdoor activities, camps, classes, and other in-person events. These are great opportunities for us to learn, to engage in self-care and have a lot of choices to explore that we can also use in the upcoming school year, to enrich our content and learning experiences.
Check out these six resources to engage in some fun summer virtual camps and learning experiences. These offer the chance to learn new dances, explore different music styles, take in some live concerts and performances. For virtual camps that are offered, we will create opportunities for students to collaborate with students and classrooms from around the world, which will benefit students as they become more culturally and globally aware.
The camps available started at the beginning of June and will continue over the summer through August 14th. The camps are offered to students between the ages of 8 through 13. There are many options available for students to explore including art, coding, technology, and other STEAM-related topics. Through these camps, students will be able to develop their skills in problem-solving, collaboration, and creativity.
There are daily live-streamed courses being offered by Cosmourse, a London based company. The courses are available to children between the ages of 3 and 14. Using Zoom, participants can learn about art, talk and learn with students from around the world, and create their own art projects. The content offered teaches students about different art styles, techniques, and even different art movements.
JCAL is offering a lot of great choices for students and adults looking to learn about a variety of dance and exercise styles. Each week there are pop-up classes available that focus on many styles and options, including: African Dance, hip-hop, STEM, yoga, drama; there are also options for learning more about songwriting. To see prior classes, check out some of the recordings available on the JCAL YouTube Channel.
Over the summer, it is time to catch up on practicing that musical instrument we’ve been working on or possibly getting started with something new. Lessonface offers classes to students in many areas. Some of the options available include learning how to play the banjo, guitar, harmonica, piano, trumpet, ukulele, or taking voice lessons. Lessonface provides access to music instructors and students can choose between group classes or taking a live 1:1 lesson. Lessonface also has a Group Online (GO) class format that includes the group classes that are offered weekly. Through this site, educators and students can take advantage of getting a music education online.
For educators looking to provide learning experiences for students to engage in with families, there are many options available through the Whittle School. Open to children ages 3 through 17, these courses are available through August 14. For educators who teach languages, culinary arts, global courses, there are some great options available through their programs. Languages are offered for Mandarin Chinese, English, and Spanish. These courses offer asynchronous lessons as well as in-person online lessons. For culinary arts teachers, the classes offered are aimed at teaching students to cook lunch for their families and also help students to understand different cultures through the chosen theme for each week. Beyond these courses, there are options available to help students design a resume, learn about social media, and building life readiness and digital skills.
An online tutoring organization that will be offering free interactive online summer camps to students in K-12. The camps are focused on topics including art, language learning, math, mindfulness, and other enrichment topics. The classes will meet Monday through Friday and are open to students from around the world, which is a great way to build collaborative skills and global awareness for our students.
Beyond these opportunities, there are virtual learning summits happening for educators provided through different organizations. ISTE is offering a Summer Learning Academy with webinars and micro-courses from July 13 – 31, 2020. The cost is $20 for the three weeks of learning. The Indiana Connected Educator (ICE) Conference is available for free and is taking place July 20-24, 2020.
There are many choices out there and each of these offers opportunities for educators, students, and families to participate in summer learning and make global connections as well. Simply choosing one to begin with will provide many benefits for learning and promoting student curiosity and engagement in new learning experiences.
Rachelle Dene Poth is a Foreign Language and STEAM Teacher at Riverview Junior/Senior High in Oakmont, PA. She is also an Attorney, Edtech Consultant and the Author of In Other Words: Quotes that Push Our Thinking, The Future is Now, and Unconventional Ways to Thrive in EDU. Follow her on Twitter at @Rdene915