Climbing UP the Summer Slide

Yes-Climb-SlideEver hear of “summer slide”?  It’s a phenomena  that has been happening for …. well, forever.  It is the fact that students seem to lose a degree of their reading comprehension abilities, math skills and other content knowledge over the long summer break from school.  You can blame the scorch of the sun or the chlorine in the pool, or you can read the research behind why it happens, but the real question is what can you do to stop it? 

The answer is pretty simple, really.  Keep your child using those skills!  Even just a few minutes a day with a book or in math practice will do the trick  – and my parent blog can help!  Check the resources section for posts about lots of different programs, many of which are FREE, that you can use at home to keep your child from losing the progress he or she has made over the last year.  One place I’d recommend starting is with the Achieve 3000 Summer Reading Contest, where your child could win an iPad mini in addition to keeping their reading comprehension skills sharp!  All Southwest Parke students that just finished grades 3-12 already have accounts that will remain active through the summer months.  Students in grades K-6 and some Jr-Sr high students also have IXL accounts that will remain available throughout the summer, giving them easy access to unlimited math practice.  ALEKS account expiration dates vary greatly, but your child might be able to continue using this amazing program as well.

If your child isn’t too excited about the idea of continuing the work they were doing in school, make it more fun!  Go to the library and let him or her pick out some books.  No pressure, no test… just reading for the love of reading.  It will go a long way if you model that love of reading too, Mom and Dad!   And there are tons of great math gaming websites that will have your kid begging to practice math skills without even realizing it!  For starters, check out or the Sushi Monster iPad app.

So… have a great summer full of family fun, but don’t forget to take a few minutes each day to keep those skills sharp.  You’ll be amazed at the difference when next school year starts.

Please contact me for help accessing our digital programs, assistance getting offline resources, or answers to questions.  765-569-2073 x2004

Want to know more?  Here are some articles to help you prevent academic loss in your son or daughter this summer!

How To Make Summer Reading Effective

10 Ways To Prevent Summer Slide

  Don’t Fall Back:  Summer Literacy Acceleration

Above The Line

Change takes time.  I have to repeat those words to myself every single day.  We have come so far since we began our journey as a 1:1 school and transitioning our curriculum – closing reading deficiencies through differentiation, providing unlimited practice when it’s needed, using data to focus our instruction exactly where it needs to be, and so much more.  But I breathe a sigh of discouragement when I hear some of the comments from parents, teachers and students that indicate that we still haven’t fully shifted our thinking.

It has never really been about the tech.  

The devices are just a means to a munch bigger end.  Yes, we need to give students experience with technology to prepare them for the world they live in and will work in.  Yes, we can use technology to make learning more engaging and efficient. But it’s really about using technology as the tool to make it more personal and authentic.

In recent months, we’ve presented students with a writing prompt for Digital Learning Day, sent a survey to parents, and announced that Riverton will be a BYOD school next year.  In addition to showing some really good steps we’ve taken forward, the responses have also revealed that many still see the devices as nothing more than a substitution for an old way of doing things.  Their vision is far too small.  We clearly need to do a better job of helping students and parents to see that tools like Achieve , ALEKS  and IXL aren’t just moving from a book to a screen, they are moving from a one-size-fits-all education to one that is customized to each students’ exact needs and pace of learning.  Students don’t always like this because it really raises the bar for them.  Advanced students aren’t just coasting through the grade level content that comes easy to them, but are being challenged more than ever.  Students who were happy to slip through the cracks before, are now finding that impossible.  I don’t know of any parent who wouldn’t want this kind of individualized education for their child, but some don’t really understand that is what we’re doing.  Most of our teachers are seeing the benefits of this kind of shift, but some still struggle to see the true possibilities opened up to them because we are a 1:1 school.  Let’s not stop at discussing the author’s purpose, let’s use the technology available to us to ASK him or her!  Let’s give our students a voice and open up the doors to create and share with the entire globe. Let’s give students, teachers, parents and administrators the means to really communicate with one another anytime. Let’s give students the chance to explore their curiosities in unlimited ways, invent, solve real problems. Let’s use the technology less for things that can be done just as well on paper, and more for things that truly transform learning.  If you’re an educator, you know that I’m talking about making the climb over the S.A.M.R. line, which is a topic I think we need to revisit in professional development and set some specific goals towards accomplishing.

Please don’t get me wrong, we have lots of teachers who are leading their students to these places.  This year I’ve seen classes where students are blogging, Skyping, sharing their voice about current events from news clips, and mastering multiple levels of content in a single year.  I’ve watched teachers’ eyes light up as they get excited about new possibilities that will take learning to new heights.  But it’s like this….


It isn’t their fault that this process takes so long and seems crazy at times.  There is a lot standing in a teachers’ way – fear of failure, state mandates, lack of time… We just need to do a better job of sharing that vision so that everyone sees it and believes in it.   And I need to be patient and wait for it.   There isn’t a doubt in my mind that Southwest Parke is a school district on a path to climb above the line.  It just takes time.

21st Century Math

Progress-is-impossible-without-changeChange is hard, but necessary.  This year, we have made a significant change in our math curriculum.  I feel it is important to convey the reasons for these changes, especially to parents who may not be aware of all the behind-the-scenes stuff that we in education work through everyday.  Please take a few minutes to view this video explanation of the shift to digital that we have made with math practice.  If you are skeptical about a lack of worksheets coming home or technology in general, I hope it will help you see a little bit more of the picture.  Please don’t hesitate to contact me with questions!