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Top Ten DIY Ways to Get Smarter Over the Summer

June 15, 2016 / by Rosemary Baker

It's that time of year again. You know, when you can tell people exactly (down to the second) when school lets out for the summer.

It can't get here fast enough and we know why. You deserve a much needed break! But we also know that many of you take the summer to catch up on activities that stimulate the mind, from visiting your city's local museums, to reading books from your classroom library so you can recommend more options to your students. We want to help you accomplish all of these things, so we created a list of great resources. Here are ten things you can do to take advantage of summer.

1. Stock Up on Classroom Books: See if there is a Scholastic Customer Appreciation Warehouse near you -- you can score up to 80% off books. Or take some time to visit the cool indie or nonprofit bookstores in your city -- just Google and go. If your bookstores are anything like Open Books in Chicago, they'll re-inspire your love of reading with their atmosphere, books, and programming.

2. Start a Book Club to Build Your Content Capacity: We don't often get to share our practice with other teachers. We need to make time to share our expertise and knowledge so we can continue to rise to the occasion for our students, especially now as teachers are navigating the Common Core Standards. Starting a book club with fellow educators is a great way to share that knowledge and expertise, learn new things, and have some fun. There are suggested texts by subject area below.

3. Read Some Professional Texts:

Math:

Literacy:

Science:

Social Studies:

Dual Language Learners/ELLs:

Diverse Learners:

Social Emotional Learning:

4. Write a Grant: Whether it's for your classroom or for your colleagues and yourself, I recommend looking at DonorsChoose.org, Fund for Teachers, Grant Wrangler, or the NEA Foundation.

5. Catch Up On Your Growing List of "Must Watch" Videos: Watch the TED Talks you skipped because they were longer than five minutes. Tackle that queue of videos on Netflix. Check out this list of 20 movies every educator should see from Edutopia (it's a mix of light hearted and serious suggestions). For those who like documentaries, Edutopia also has a list of education documentaries to get you thinking deeply about our profession. And, of course, browse through some of Teaching Channel's video playlists, where you will find curated videos on all kinds of teaching strategies.

6. Research Your City's Lemonade Day: See if your city hosts this entrepreneurial opportunity where student teams from across a city learn to start, operate, and own their own business -- one lemonade stand at a time. Attend your city's Lemonade Day this summer to determine whether you want to get your students involved. Go to http://lemonadeday.org/ to find out more.

7. Visit Your Local Museums and Landmarks: Get an educator pass and go see your city's museums, historical sites, and landmarks. Think of ways you can make these places "classrooms outside of the the traditional classroom" for your students.

8. Take a Class: What have you been wanting to learn? Museums, libraries, colleges, and universities often offer classes for teachers. Or visit your favorite professional learning site and check out their webinar archive and catch up on what you've missed.

9. Deepen Your Love for Your Curriculum Materials: Without the pressure of lesson planning deadlines, take some time to review your curriculum materials. Find the places where you can supplement or extend learning, think about your teaching practice, and review how you're engaging your students. It will be well worth the time.

10. Rest, Recharge, Rejuvenate: Take some time -- as much time as you need -- to not think about school, and do the things that feed your soul. The beginning of the new school year inevitably rolls around faster than you expect, but by using your time off this summer wisely, you will be ready!

Topics: Professional Learning, Coaching, Summer Learning, Classroom DIY

Rosemary Baker

Written by Rosemary Baker

Rosemary currently works for AUSL, co-managing their Elementary Coach team. Using what's she's learned in her 14 years as an educator, she supports coaches, teachers and administrators as they do the important work of turning around failing schools.

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