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Brain Camp: Tips to stay engaged until school resumes this fall

Jul 06, 2016 02:00PM ● Published by Cate Reynolds

Calling all parents & students!

Put a bull’s eye on the “summer slump” and aim to avoid academic slip-ups with our teacher recommended reading list and tips to stay engaged until school resumes this fall.

Just before the close of the 2016 school year, What’s Up? Media polled local teachers for their pro tips on how they’d like to see students keep their academic prowess up to speed during summer. We present their answers to our questions at hand, as well as present a compiled “Summer Reading Recs” list.

Question:

What one or two authors/books would you recommend to your students as summer reading and why?



“To be read aloud to first graders: anything by Beverly Cleary. Her style, stories, and lessons appeal to a wide range of children. For children to read to themselves: Frog & Toad series by Arnold Lobel and the Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne.”
—Cheryl Plummer, Kent School


“Summer reading can help build community—a shared experience. Any story with a character who lives largely inside of his or her head, we have a common touchstone. We can talk about ‘popular’ and ‘high" art’—are comics art? Does Calvin have a philosophy of life? Can humor be serious? Many of John Grisham’s books lend themselves to summer reading—they present interesting cases with lots of good moral problems to discuss upon return.”
—Daniel J. McMahon, Ph.D., principal, DeMatha Catholic High School


“Besides the required summer reading, I encourage students to read any book that interests them. Truly, students reading any book is better than just sitting around playing on phones all day. So whatever book they can get into, they should go for it!”
—Deborah Vo, Elizabeth Seton High School


“To the nautically-inclined, any Patrick O’Brian novel from the Aubrey/Maturin series. Master and Commander is a great way to christen your summer literary adventure.”
—Woody Granger, The Gunston School


“I would recommend Michael Pollan’s Botany of Desire. The co-evolution of plants and animals is fascinating and prepares students for high school biology.”
—Emily Beck, The Gunston School


“I would highly recommend All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brenden Kiely. This book deals with difficult topics, such as police brutality and racial profiling, from the points of view of two teen boys, one black, one white.
—Ashley Fetterolf, Indian Creek School


“I would recommend Laurie Halse Anderson for both middle and upper school students. Her historical fiction (Chains, Forge, etc.) is beautifully done, and she also tackles more challenging social issues in books such as Speak.”
—Jane Zanger, The Key School


“Each student is responsible for reading one required work and one other work from an optional list. The required works are: Freshmen: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (unabridged version) by Mark Twain; Sophomores: The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho; Juniors: The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass; and Seniors: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.”
— English Department, Saints Peter and Paul School


Question:

What types of activities (other than reading) do you recommend to your students to keep them engaged academically during summer?



“Anything that gets them outdoors and interacting with nature, hiking, rock climbing, sailing, surfing, plein air painting, etc. Current neuroscience proves that engagement with nature increases cognitive ability and feelings of well-being.”
—Dimitra Neonakis, Wye River Upper School


“Garden: bears the fruits of diligence (and fruit). Sketch: encourages the cooperation of the left and right brain as well as mind and body.”
—Woody Granger, The Gunston School


“I think we're living in the golden age of podcasts. On short or long summer drives, I recommend subscribing to a few. My personal favorites are the National Constitution Center podcast, the ‘Leonard Lopate Show’ (from WNYC), and ESPN’s ’Baseball Tonight.’”
—John Lewis, The Gunston School


“I recommend kids join a summer camp! Of course summer should be a time for playing and having fun. But there’s no reason playing and having fun cannot also be a learning experience.”
—Amy Coleman, Indian Creek School


“In addition to reading throughout the summer, students benefit from keeping their writing skills sharp. This could be through journaling or documenting a family trip, writing emails and letters to friends and relatives, or creative writing.”
—Becky Amaral, The Country School


Question:

Do you have any favorite education apps (for ipad, android, other) that you recommend for your students?



“I recommend Wordbrain (free app) which has you identify words in grids.”
—Daniel J. McMahon, Ph.D., DeMatha Catholic High School


“7 Jours Sur La Planète is a fantastic French app. You watch a video of an interesting newscast, new vocabulary is presented, and then you get to play a series of educational games based on the video and the vocabulary. It tests your memory, listening, reading, and writing skills at multiple ability levels.”
—Natalie St. Louis, Elizabeth Seton High School


“The off switch. It gives students the opportunity to read a book, explore the great outdoors, or enjoy friendships. I believe it comes pre-installed on most models.”
—Woody Granger, The Gunston School


“This is an election year, so it is important for students to keep up with current events. There are dozens of publications that have great electronic interfaces: The New York Times, NPR, Politico, Real Clear Politics, etc.”
—John Lewis, The Gunston School


“Let’s keep it simple with YouTube. Of course, there is everything Crash Course, but I’m also a devoted fan of School of Life, Nerdwriter1, Philosophy Tube, Kurzgesagt, CGP Grey, Vox, It’s Okay To Be Smart, and Every Frame a Painting. I recommend subscribing to some educational channels and checking them out on the regular.
—Moe Weimer, The Gunston School


“Dream Box, Hungry Fish, Flash To Pass, Concentration, Sudoku, Word Search, Cross Words, Bluster.”
—Karen Bennett, Kent School


“A great app that will connect you to history wherever you are. It’s called “Field Trip.” The app can alert you when you’re near important buildings, historical sites, etc. It will tell you what that historical marker you just passed actually said. It’s such a resource at home or when you’re exploring a new place!”
—Angela Baccala, The Key School


Question:

If you can name an on- or off-the-beaten path site to visit over the summer (museum, park, historic site, etc.), what would it be and why?



“Patapsco State Park, close to Baltimore City. Brimming with streams, dams, ruins, waterfalls, and active train tracks. On any given day you might see fisherman, climbers, mountain bikers, and horses. There are over 100 miles of trails stretching from the Middle Branch in the city out into Baltimore and Howard Counties. The Daniels area of the park is a great place to start for families with young children. Lots to see and do within one mile of the parking area.”
—Paul Bayne, The Key School


“Montpelier, Monticello, Mount Vernon, Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown, Gettysburg. Students can learn so much about history and our nation’s past by visiting these sites.”
—Debbie Cohee-Wright, Radcliffe Creek School


“The best off-the-beaten-path trip for students is staying with a host-family in a foreign country of the language they are learning. The summer is the perfect time to do this and there are numerous programs out there that offer this type of experience.”
—Natalie St. Louis, Elizabeth Seton High School


“I would recommend that students and faculty go check out the Wonder exhibit at the Renwick Gallery in Washington, D.C. before it closes in early July. When it gets really hot, check out the Icebergs installation at the National Building Museum!”
—Ashley Fetterolf, Indian Creek School


“Hagley Museum in Wilmington, Delaware, provides hands-on activities for students. Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania; educational activities for students geared to their age level.”
—Karen Bennett, Kent School


“Eastern Neck Island—it is great to get that real ‘Eastern Shore’ experience. Mount Harmon Plantation in Earleville—take a step back in time.”
—Cheryl Plummer, Kent School


“The National Archives is so much fun for kids. It’s hard not to be moved by seeing these documents that are so essential to our democracy, and the public vaults provide great opportunities for kids to interact in a hands-on way with history.”
—Jane Zanger, The Key School


Question:

If there was one thing you wish your students had better prepared for coming into the new school year, what would it be?



“I wish students were better prepared to problem-solve things for themselves. Too often if a student doesn’t understand something (an assignment, or directions, or a digital tool), she will just not do an assignment rather than ask for help, do research, or try to work through the issue.”
—Deborah Vo, Elizabeth Seton High School


“Fitness. I agree with one of our nation’s great minds in education, Thomas Jefferson, who wrote, ‘I give more time to exercise of the body than of the mind, believing it wholesome to both.’ Not to mention, a fit soccer team will win games early in the season simply because of their superior endurance.”
—Woody Granger, The Gunston School


“We feel children need to know that it is okay to make a mistake and that we can learn and grow from these mistakes. It is important for students to take risks and challenge themselves during the learning process.”
—Heather Bosanko and Debbie Pittenger, St. Martin’s-in-the-Field Episcopal School


“I’m not trying to be funny here, but a favorite pen and a small notebook that you can carry around in your back pocket. And carry those suckers around everywhere! To be able to capture your thoughts, your reactions, and emotions during moments of inspiration and to organize and record them for future reference is actually kind of similar to Pokémon. You want to catch them all, or at least as many as you can so that you’re able to access and share them when you need to. Try to catch at least one inspirational moment a day. You’d be like a PokéMaster of inspiration.”
—Moe Weimer, The Gunston School


“As adults, the more curiosity in the world around us that we model for our children, the more accomplished learners they will become. Kids also need to understand that it’s okay to not have the correct answer for a given question, but have the tools and perseverance to find answers on their own. A home environment that fosters the confidence necessary to ask for help makes all the difference.”
—Christine O’Neil, St. Mary’s Elementary


Question:

What advice would you offer parents regarding their children (your students) during the summer months?



“If you take a trip keep a family journal (everyone writes a few lines about their day). Helps keep memories alive, will go with the pictures you take, and will be hilarious when you resurrect it with them as adults—I know from experience.”
—Daniel J. McMahon, Ph.D., DeMatha Catholic High School


“Another thing many of my students’ parents do that is very helpful is that they read whatever book their child has been assigned for summer reading along with the student. That way they can talk about the book together, and it also gives parents a sense of what the students will be learning about for the first few weeks of school.”
—Deborah Vo, Elizabeth Seton High School


“Enjoy childhood! Think of your favorite summer memories...build a sandcastle, climb a tree, ‘Oooh and Aaah’ at the fireworks, make s’mores, swim until your fingers look like prunes, catch fireflies, eat drippy ice cream cones, sleep in a tent in the back yard, bait a hook, run, skip, jump, climb, play.”
—Cheryl Plummer, Kent School


“Challenge your family to turn all screens (any device) off by a certain time of night and spend that time together.”
—Christy Urban, The Key School


“Parents taking time each day to read with their young children. A story a day! And…keeping up with reading skills so they don’t lose ground in the summer. Practice is the key! Read, read, read!”
—Linda Kirchner, St. Mary’s Elementary School
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Click Here to see our Summer Reading Recs, A collection of teacher recommended books for each age group.

Today, Arts+Entertainment education summer Reading July Annapolis 2016 July West County 2016 July Eastern Shore 2016 Brain Camp

 

 

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