Sunny Days: 3 Electrifying Tips for Teaching Through the Summer
Whether you are teaching adults or youth throughout the summer, it is an important time to try out new things and shake things up.
Teaching through the summer doesn’t have to be an ordeal though. Follow these 3 electrifying tips to bring your students in out of the heat and into your refreshing world of language this summer!
How to Teach Through the Summer
Project-oriented work is a valuable approach to engage students throughout the summer. The first thing it does is delivers a sense of purpose with solid timelines and clear expectations for the students. This helps the time go by faster because each class period they will know what is coming at them. They will also be advancing forward on a project that is very individually significant. Project work can be very appealing and distinctive because students get the chance to really take the time to hammer something out that they are excited about working on. It brings an electric energy into the classroom as well as a more relaxed, self-paced feeling a lot of the time.
The best way to set-up projects is to first come up with some options to share with the class. Then let each student have a say in specifically what they want to do. They should each devise a plan for their project from the beginning. They can organize their ideas and timeline and you can then format how you want the each class period to flow. The basis for the projects will really depend on the class, the level and the age group. It’s a good idea to provide project ideas that combine speaking, researching, and writing with some kind of design or craft.
One possibility that is applicable for kids or high school students is to design dream homes. You can supply them with a basic floor plan and from there the sky is the limit with what they come up with! You can incorporate lessons on home types, house vocabulary, materials to build a house, and cost estimates. You could even have them draw out a model home with a lot of detail and then present it to the group. Another idea following this same vein is students create a model of the home they live in and then they have to be a realtor and sell you their home. If you have an advanced class, you could tie that in with lessons related to buying a home, searching for the ideal home, describing things, and persuasive speech. One more idea for a big project that students could spend the summer working on is to craft some kind of invention. This is a worthwhile one because you can do all sorts of fun lessons on everyday items and how they came to exist, stories about inventors, improvement or advancement of our world in general. This could be done in groups to make it easier, and students would research and then design a new product and eventually present it to the class. These types of projects really do keep students’ attention and they are excited and enthusiastic about attending class!
This might seem intimidating at first, but what better time to read a book than summer time? There are a lot of resources out there for all levels of ESL, and options for guided readers, young adult fiction, or graphic novels. You don’t want the students to be overwhelmed by this choice or in over their heads. Be sure to consult the class for their ideas and provide several options. Start small and if it goes well you might find you have time to do two or three more. After choosing the type of book or story that you will focus on in the class, you need to begin thinking about how to make it as interactive as possible. You want to incorporate lessons on things like setting, mood, and characters. You can do this in interesting ways by involving students and getting them to take charge of the lessons. One way is to have students first discuss what they are reading in very basic terms. Then get them to dissect pieces of what they are reading by providing exercises and dialogue. You could have groups of students act out their favorite scene from a chapter. Have them work on it for two or three class periods and then present their mini-plays to the group. Another way to do this is to take a chunk of the story, maybe two to three pages and cut it up. Students then have to organize it into order by memory. Along with this activity you can include discussion about the characters, setting or mood. Other ways to really engage them in the reading is to have them do some exercises where they predict what they think is going to happen in the next chapter, write an alternate ending to a chapter or to the entire book, or draw out caricatures of their favorite or least favorite characters.
Around the Neighborhood
Though it may not be possible to do full-blown field trips with your class, that doesn’t mean that you can’t gather them together and walk out of the classroom. There is a whole world out there that ESL students can learn from just by slowing down and analyzing things. Think about your immediate neighborhood and what possible lessons live right outside the front door. For a beginner level class, you could take them to the coffee shop across the street and have them practice ordering and paying. You could take them on a short walk and plot out where all the bus stops are within a mile or two. For more advanced students you could think about doing a short nature hike and examine the types of trees, flowers and plants in your area. Students may have intimate knowledge about these things to share with you or they may never have really stopped to look around at what surrounds them. Another option could be to go into a local grocery store. Choose an area that you want to focus on like produce or grains and do some lessons beforehand. You could give them a scavenger hunt to do which could include speaking to employees of the store to find some obscure thing. There is an abundance of simple things you can do just to get the students out of the classroom for some real world exposure! Maybe you make this a weekly event and take suggestions from the students.
There are so many ways to engage students during off-season teaching.
You can take these ideas and run with them and adapt them for your particular needs. Find your own inspiration from your students and allow them to have a say in the lesson creation. What creative projects or book ideas have you tried that were wildly successful that you would like to share?
I am an ex-ESL teacher who has transitioned from that industry into the field of adult education. I have a long history of teaching ESL in numerous countries and varied classroom settings. I’ve also taught a variety of learners, but found I loved teaching teens and adults the best. I spent three years certifying and training want-to-be teachers in China and the Czech Republic. I am also a writer and editor interested in anything to do with education, travel, and lifelong learning.
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