As I type this post, our school is in the midst of the summer doldrums. We are about halfway through the summer vacation. The temperature outside is decidedly hot. And our hallways are filled with students!
Three years ago the directors of our summer school program made a huge shift in how we approach this "time off" for kids. We thought that we could change the thinking about what summer means.
Summer used to mean three months off of learning.
Now summer means some time spent progressing on learning targets.
Summer used to mean little interaction with content that pushes students' thinking.
Now summer means wrestling with literary concepts and word problems.
Summer used to mean, "See you in September!"
Now Summer means, "See you in a couple of weeks and then again in September!"
We at OMS and the School District of Onalaska are trying to change the definition of summer. What used to be just time off is now being used, at least to some degree, as time spent learning.
Students are spending three full weeks enrolled in blocks of literacy and math instruction during the morning hours and spending the afternoons in enrichment classes ranging from "The World of Hogwarts" to Basket Weaving to basketball to simple machines.
This approach has had an impact on the overall achievement of our students as well. There is a noticeable increase in the test scores of students who have participated in Summer School over the last three years.
We sit here in our third year of this new approach and I can happily report that we have successfully redefined what summer now means.