The summer months is a time to relax, reboot, and rejuvenate for both students and teachers. It’s a time to forget your alarm, to spend with family, and to head outdoors. Unfortunately, it’s also time to lose contact with school friends and teachers, to steer clear of academic expectation, and to potentially fall into the “summer slide” where research has shown that up to one entire month of learning from the previous year can be lost. I could get into how learning experiences should be more authentic and profound throughout the actual school year to increase retention over time, but I won’t. Instead, I’ll share our “Summer Passion Project” expectation for our students this year.
Last week I received an email from a student saying she just couldn’t decide what kind of project to create and was looking for some suggestions. I did my best in my response and I’ll try again here to explain that I don’t want anyone to “create” a project this summer. I want them to realize the projects they already have created for themselves – things they want to do, try, make, etc. and then build off of those. Find ways to document their progress, findings, or learnings. Take pictures, draw diagrams, write reflections, map out plans. Then find a way to show us what they learned in the fall. In order to better explain myself, I shared with this student a list of some of my own summer passion projects I plan to tackle over the next few months.
Gardening – Though my sister was granted the green thumb in the family, I would like to sharpen my gardening skills this summer. Last week I did some research and built three raised garden beds in my driveway which are now placed in what I think are going to be successful growing locations in my backyard. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and talking to my sister to establish plans for which vegetables to grow, where to plant each, and how to best tend to the beds. This summer will be simple and slow to gain knowledge and experience for next summer and beyond.
Running – I have never been a strong runner, but I used to compete in quite a few low-key races. It’s been a while, and I’m ready to get back in the game. In preparation for some upcoming races, I am hoping to establish a training schedule for myself over the next few weeks to get back to feeling comfortable running certain distances.
Reading – I have a personal goal to read at least 10 books this summer. I want at least three to be professional reads, meaning they are somehow connected to teaching and learning. The other seven will be just for my own reading pleasure. I’m currently on my third “for fun” book and my first professional read of the summer.
Kitchen – Embarrassing as it is to admit, the kitchen remodel my husband and I embarked upon nearly one year ago still remains unfinished. Though fully functional, I am SO looking forward to being able to organize the space and to determine a home for all dishes and small appliances. I’ll just tack on the basement organization project to this one, as well. Because why not?
ARCTIC Zone Year 3 – A lot of my summer efforts will be focused on planning for next year. This week, I attended an Arts-Integration Conference through the Innovative Schools Network, and I’m currently reading a book by one of the arts consultants. Andy and I will be collaborating to develop new project ideas, student schedules, and other expectations. I am excited about the upcoming changes.
Mixed in with my personal summer passion projects, I plan to spend some much-needed time with my hubby as well as other family and friends. I have multiple mini vacations planned. I plan to listen to music in the park downtown whenever possible. I want to float down the Chippewa River. I want to improve my golf swing. I want to water ski. I want to sleep in. I want to binge-watch some summer Netflix series. I have plenty I want to do.
I’ve never asked for a response to a post before, but I’ll ask now because I see the value in a.) thinking about your own passion projects, b.) sharing them with others, and c.) seeing the projects and goals others have planned for themselves. So I ask you to comment below…
What are some of your summer passion projects?
Here are some images from our very successful end-of-year, student-led lock-in.