5 Tips to Accelerate Summer School Learning with the Science of Reading

by | Mar 13, 2024

Jillian Kaster, Community Manager As educators, the mission to combat illiteracy becomes even more pressing during the condensed time frame of summer school. With the sun high in the sky, we’re presented with a golden opportunity to make significant strides in literacy, leveraging the science of reading to ensure every student can confidently navigate the vast ocean of words. Here’s how we can turn this challenge into a triumph, one reading lesson at a time.

5 Summer School Tips

1. Focus on Structured Literacy

Structured Literacy is your compass in the vast sea of reading instruction. It emphasizes the importance of explicit, systematic teaching of phonemes, letter-sound relationships, syllable patterns, morphemes, vocabulary, and sentence, paragraph, and text structure. Use this time to intensify instruction in these areas, ensuring that every lesson is purposeful and builds on students’ existing knowledge. Remember, every minute counts, so make it as impactful as possible.

2. Incorporate Multimodal Learning

We learn best when we activate our senses. Instruction should employ all the sensory inputs and motor outputs involved in language processing: speaking, listening, writing, and reading. Incorporate multimodal learning strategies that engage sight, sound, touch, and movement to reinforce phonemic awareness and phonics skills. Dictation during instruction is highly impactful for orthographic mapping in the brain. Activities like letter formation in the sand, sound-matching games, and syllable hopscotch can make learning effective and enjoyable.

3. Leverage Assessments for Personalized Instruction

Use the beginning of summer school to assess each student’s reading abilities. A phonics screener can be a highly valuable resource to help you drill into foundational alphabet skills, decoding single-syllable words, and decoding multisyllabic words. These insights will be invaluable for personalizing instruction to meet each learner where they are. Use the data to provide explicit instruction in the area of need with plenty of practice opportunities to help students solidify the skills learned. Continuous assessment throughout the summer can also help you adjust student learning targets, ensuring that every student is on the fastest possible trajectory toward reading proficiency.

4. Utilize High-Impact Tutoring

Individual or small-group tutoring sessions can be incredibly effective during summer school. This tailored approach allows you to hone in on specific areas where each student needs support, using direct instruction and immediate feedback to foster growth. High-impact tutoring grounded in the science of reading can catalyze significant progress, even in a short period.

5. Build Confidence Through Encouragement and Engagement

Summer school can be a daunting time for students with reading challenges. It’s crucial to build their confidence through positive reinforcement, celebrating every victory, no matter how small. Engage students with materials that interest them and, most importantly, give them a sense of achievement. The number one way to build student confidence is to create small wins. For a striving reader, learning to read can feel like a chore. Break the code into bite-size pieces so it can feel simple and students can experience success right out of the gate. Decodable texts provide small victories and foster a love for reading that lasts beyond the summer months.

Download your free resource—5 Summer School Tips to Combat the Literacy Gap.

In closing, summer school presents a unique opportunity to make substantial progress in the fight against illiteracy. By applying these SoR-based strategies, we can ensure that every student catches up and leaps forward in their reading journey. Together, let’s make this summer a season of growth, confidence, and joy in learning. After all, in the quest to eradicate illiteracy, every educator is a beacon of hope, guiding their students toward a brighter future.

Are you looking for more ways to build reading momentum this summer? Watch our webinar—Turn a “Cruel Summer” into Swift Reading Success.

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