Is the Summer Working for You and Your Students?

The school year is flying by, and with the summer break just around the corner, days feel more like minutes. I have often commented about the common misconception that educators and students have the summer off, but in reality, there is summer work to be done, whether assigned or voluntary. I would like to offer a few suggestions for both the student and the educator seeking educational opportunities during time away from the classroom.

For the Student: The Summer Assignment

Over the years the faculty in our program have assigned a myriad of “summer work” assignments, and given that many high-ability students already have a jam-packed summer, my colleagues and I decided to incorporate activities the students may already be participating in as part of their work. In this way, students can recognize learning outside of the classroom, a skill that is all too often lost during the rigor of daily assignments.

The following ten suggestions come from a much larger summer work packet distributed to incoming seventh and eighth-grade students, although the ideas can be used for both younger and older students. Students have the opportunity to receive credit for:

  1. Visiting a museum and providing a two-paragraph summary of the experience. The first about the museum in general, and the second covering one or two interesting things encountered there.
  2. Conducting an interview with a person who lived in a different country, referencing some of the cultural markers of the country in which the person lived.
  3. Participating in a class or workshop that may be held at a camp, public library, YMCA, school, youth organization, etc. and writing a two-paragraph summary of the experience, including what was learned.
  4. Writing a piece of creative writing that could be a collection of poetry, a short play, or work of fiction.
  5. Attending a performance and creating a poster advertising the event or writing a two-paragraph review of the event.
  6. Creating a travel advertisement that is either a recorded jingle or a tri-fold brochure about a place visited during the summer. 
  7. Reading a young adult novel and developing a creative project promoting the book. 
  8. Designing a Reading Timeline of reading experiences that includes at least 10 events from the student’s lifetime.
  9. Creating a Web Page on a well-known scientist or environmentalist.
  10. Creating a Travel Blog to document travel (real or imaginary) over the summer.

In addition to these ideas, keep in mind the NAGC Gifted and Talented Resource Directory, and the Summer Opportunity pages on the website with suggestions and advice on how to choose the perfect summer opportunity. Check it out today! 

For The Educator: Summer Professional Development

The NAGC Annual Convention is coming to Baltimore, MD in November, but in the meantime there are a host of possibilities for professional development over the summer.  Attending a conference during this time is quite different than during the year. The opportunity to interact with other educators in a relaxed environment far removed from the usual daily schedule is something that everyone in the profession should experience. There is nothing greater than learning from educators willing to share their stories, expertise, and ideas.

Perhaps you have already experienced the excitement of a summer conference. Maybe you have been contemplating attending one near you but something always came up. Quite possibly, you may never have even thought about going. If that is the case, I urge you to explore some options. There is sure to be one close to you!

Personalizing Learning through Differentiation & Technology 


June 25 – 27
Spokane, WA


William & Mary Professional Summer Institute
June 26-27
Williamsburg, VA
University of Connecticut's Confratute 
July 13 - 18
Storrs, CT

SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted) Conference
July 18 - 20
San Jose, CA

Boise State’s Edufest
July 28 – August 1
Boise, ID