MAT Blog

Stop summer slide in its tracks with this summer reading challenge

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 15, 2013 6:00:00 AM

summer reading challengeWe’ve been writing a lot about summer slide the past couple of weeks, but we think there’s good reason for it:

  • In a 2011 analysis published by the RAND Corporation, McCombs reveals that elementary students' performance falls by about a month during the summer.
  • The Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, a collaborative effort among dozens of foundations, lists summer learning loss as one of the three major obstacles to reading proficiency at the end of 3rd grade (Gewertz, 2011). Other studies come to similar conclusions. 

We’ve been racking our brains for activities and summer reading strategies you can pass on to your students (and their parents) this summer. Thanks to Mrs. Phillips, the principal of Chets Creek Elementary School, we’re able to pass on one more called the Summer Reading Challenge.

Last week, Principal Phillips challenged the school to read 100 books this summer (for children reading chapter books, this means a chapter counts as a book). Each student received a reading chart and 100 stars. Children who return the competed chart will earn a special treat from the Principal when they return in the fall.  

Click on the picture below to download a copy of the reading-challenge chart. Please thank Principal Phillips for sharing this cool idea!

summer reading challenge chart2.jpg



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Tags: summer slide, summer vacation, summer break, summer learning losses, summer activities for kids, summer reads

10 Summer Activities for Kids Who Use the B-Word

Posted by Marygrove MAT on Jun 6, 2013 11:25:00 AM

 summer activities for kids

We strongly dislike the B-Word (boring!) and those of us with kids find it ringing in our ears during the summer. As anti-boredom fighters and educational advocates, we’d like to offer 10 summer activities for kids. Not only will they keep students entertained, they’ll also keep them from taking a ride down the summer slide. Please feel free to add any suggestions to our list!

10 Summer Activities for Kids Who Use the B-Word

  1. Plant a garden and keep a journal documenting each plant’s growth. If you are short on space, plant in containers.

  2. Here’s an idea for parents: If your children want to watch TV—even though the weather is beautiful!—cut them a deal: They can watch a movie, but they have to watch it with the sound off and the closed captioning on.

  3. Use iPadio to create a weekly podcast updating friends and family on your summer adventures. iPadio is a free app that allows you to record up to 60 minutes of high quality audio simply by using your cell phone (or landline). Once you’ve recorded your message, you can upload it to Facebook or email it to your friends and family.

  4. Here’s an idea for teachers: Hand out postcards (stamped and addressed) so that your students can tell you about their summer.

  5. Find a picture book without words and write your own story. Not sure where to start? Try The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher by Molly Bang. It’s a classic.

  6. Adopt a soldier through websites like, Adopt a US Soldier or Soldier’s Angels. Just remember that when you sign up, you’re making a commitment to regularly send cards and care packages. If you’re unsure what you should say, check out these sample letters for ideas. Keep in mind that packages don’t have to be expensive and if you’re stumped on what to get for your adopted hero, just ask; you can also refer to the website for a list of the most-requested items.

  7. Become a change agent. We’ve always believed that young people have the power to lead even if they don’t know it themselves. Are you passionate about animals? The environment? Does texting-and-driving bother you? Stop by, a website for young people who want to help make the world a better place, but don’t know exactly where to start.

  8. Become a Geocacher. If you’ve never heard of it, geocaching is a free real-world outdoor treasure hunt. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using a smartphone or GPS and can then share their experiences online. To learn more about it, stop by

  9. Design an alternative book cover for your favorite book, or try writing a short sequel or alternative ending to the book instead.

  10. If you’re looking for a list of books to read over the summer, but don’t know where to start, download Reading Rocket’s free guide to summer reading.

    Surfing for Substance II Download

Tags: summer slide, summer vacation, summer break, summer learning losses, summer activities for kids, summer reads

Practice what you preach- sneak in a good summer read before school starts.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Aug 25, 2012 10:22:00 PM

Marygrove MAT encourages teachers to sneak in a summer read before school starts!If you’re one of the lucky teachers who won’t go back to school until after Labor Day, there’s still time to squeeze in a couple of good summer reads! Teachers who are able to share their own personal love of reading with their students can instill a love of books that carries on throughout their lives. Make sure you share some of the titles that you’ve read with your students, and ask them to share theirs! Talking about books fosters an increased interest in reading, so make time for it in your classrooms this year!

Three great summer reads for teachers:

The Summer Book (Jansson, 2012) This beautiful story, set on a tiny island in the Gulf of Finland, examines the connection between a young girl and her grandmother in her final months of life. They spend the summer together in companionship and exploration while discussing things that matter to everyone, regardless of age.  
Heart and Soul (Binchy, 2009) An uplifting tale of friends, family, patients and staff at a heart clinic in Ireland, this book will provide intersecting stories that all tie together in the end. Dr. Clara Casey is tasked with establishing the clinic and is faced with a variety of challenges including funding, demanding patients, and family life. Dr. Casey’s story plays out among the accompanying tales of patients and staff and celebrates the story's setting of modern day Ireland.
Learn Me Good (Pearson, 2006) This is the story of Mr. Woodson, an engineer who loses his job and decides to try his hand at teaching math. The book is actually a series of emails that Woodson writes to a friend still working for his former employer. A quick read, you'll find yourself laughing at the funny subject lines, names at the closing of each email, and how true-to-life the hilarious stories are. 

Reading for pleasure is important but you can also choose books that benefit you professionally. These two titles are quick reads that can make a fast impact in your classroom.

Two great professional summer reads for teachers:
Opening Minds (Johnston, 2012) A thorough analysis of the words teachers use with students demonstrates the power language holds. Peter Johnston makes the case for carefully choosing your words and how small shifts in word choice can affect a student's perception, sense of self, and emotional, moral, and social development.
What Keeps Teachers Going? (Nieto, 2003) This collection of vignettes about teaching and learning serves as an inspiration to everyone in the field of education. The author examines lessons that can be learned from veteran teachers who have served in the classroom a number of years and maintain a hopeful enthusiasm.

Get more intimately involved with reading and words—download our FREE quick guide to explicit word analysis instruction for a refresher on the power of words and word play! Have a powerful year!


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Tags: Reading, summer reads, explicit word analysis instruction

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