5 Strategies for Building Your 2021 Summer Acceleration and Enrichment Program

Designing plans that address unfinished learning in a pandemic-affected year is taking many different forms. While education news outlets and Government Education department recommendations are exploring the prospects of extended school days or school-year calendars, many school leaders’ eyes are also turning to summer programming for an extra boost.

While summer school is certainly nothing new, 2021 summer school planning does beg the question—is it enough to offer the traditional summer options? Should schools consider a different approach?

We can all agree that this summer will follow a far-from-typical school year. With that in mind, we’ve explored the summer learning recommendations of several education agencies to bring six critical planning decisions you should be thinking about to the forefront.

1. Impacted Students: How will schools identify which students have been most impacted by the pandemic, with a focus on the most vulnerable populations?

Research is already showing a greater need to catch up for specific populations that can provide a good leading indicator of where you might find the highest needs with your school. In a recently published DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) 8th edition study from Amplify, 20 percent fewer kindergarteners are on track to learn how to read than their peers were this time last year—a theme largely reported by others as well. In addition to significant gaps in the early elementary years, gaps across the board are especially pronounced for Black and Hispanic students.

2. The need for Assessment: How will schools identify, unpack, and target the nuanced needs of impacted students?

While according to McKinsey & Company research, cumulative learning loss by June 2021 could be substantial—amounting to students being between four to nine months behind on average—we know how much students will need to catch up will be different for every individual. This is where administering high-quality assessments to accurately diagnose students’ strengths, needs, and specific learning progress is essential. Begin each academic period with a proven diagnostic to inform your instruction and deliver personalized learning experiences for each student.

3. Approaches and Instruction: What approaches can best be deployed to address those needs?

This school year has challenged educators at all levels to get creative, leading with innovative approaches that employ technology to overcome social distancing. With all the lessons learned, there’s much to take forward into your summer acceleration and enrichment programming. Whether your school decides to launch a full in-school option with transport and meals provided or you simply want to take the online learning programs you have today and encourage independent use over the summer, the myriad of options is extensive. Perhaps this summer would be best served by using a blend of methods to target different needs and family preferences.

4. Partnerships: Which partners can schools engage with in supporting student needs?

Consider partnering with local and regional organizations, including libraries, museums, and after-school programs, in your community. These entities can often be well-versed in supporting K–12 students during the summer months. Other partners to prioritize include those that provide the educational programming you may already use or may be considering to use to augment your program’s reach and quality. In your search, consider how Edmentum International combines proven programs and consulting to power your teaching practices.

5. Alignment: How can your summer-learning plan reinforce and align to other school programs?

In planning your summer programming, assessment and academic instruction grounded in understanding skill gaps and clawing back missed credits are most likely the obvious places to start. Additionally, make sure that these summer learning experiences connect back to other school programs and initiatives. Your plan should include attending to students’ social-emotional learning (SEL) to support the success of the whole learner. The pandemic has drawn attention to the value of mental health and wellness education, making it no longer just a “nice to have” option, and every school would be remiss not to consider where SEL will be integrated into the next school year’s learning. SEL is just one example of an additional school program to consider, but others might include graduation plans, remote-learning plans, and tutoring.

Providing Students With Another Method Of Learning To Reinforce Knowledge At International British School Mount Kelly Hong Kong

Situated in Hong Kong, Mount Kelly is a British International School that has 150 students from year 1 to year 9. The school comprises mainly English language learner (ELL) students and follows the British curriculum.

Mount Kelly was established four years ago, and since that time, they chose Edmentum’s EducationCity to support their teaching and learning needs. Indeed, Nick Rothwell, Deputy Head at the school, says: “from our very first year of setting up the school we took on EducationCity, which was about four years ago. EducationCity was the first online platform we took on.”

Supporting Learning In & Out of the Classroom

Mount Kelly was looking for a platform that their children could access for classwork and homework to support their education. Nick says that: “we wanted to have something which our children could access outside of school and work on more areas of development, particularly with English being one of them but also their Maths so that it would give them an extra layer of education.”

Since the school implemented EducationCity, the product has been meeting many of their needs.

Nathan Beaumont, Key Stage 1 Phase Lead at the school, comments on EducationCity as an educational tool for his students and says that “rather than a book, it’s interactive for the children because the games are only 10 minutes, so they’re perfect in terms of screen time. They can do something related to the learning in the classroom, and all the games are linked to the British curriculum, so it’s backed up what we were doing in school.

“As well as this, we like the fact that it’s not just English and Maths for Key Stage 1, but there are the phonics games as well, and there’s also science resources, and so all of the core subjects are catered for. The children really enjoy completing science games, and it gives them a difference in learning from paper-based instruction.”

Furthermore, the school also comments that the product has been good for their ELL students in learning the language at their pace. Nick says that “even some of our weaker EAL students use it, and it has been helpful for them.”

Aiding a Continuity of Learning

With the current global situation resulting in the migration to distance learning for many schools, Mount Kelly has found it very beneficial to have an education technology product such as EducationCity.

Sophie Jackson, Key Stage 2 Phase Lead, comments that as the teachers already had EducationCity embedded before the move to home learning, their transition was easier. Sophie says that “it was very much embedded with us already, and it was beneficial for us to have EducationCity for our classes while we could work with other students one-to-one online.

“During home learning, we set activities every week in Maths, English, and Science that links to what we are doing, and this is slotted into the timetable within the school day, so it’s become a part of the curriculum. We can see who has or hasn’t completed work too and who needs to catch up, so that’s beneficial.”

Following this, Nick also comments on how teachers were already on board with EducationCity, which made a move to home learning more seamless: “the transition to home learning was natural for teachers as we already had EducationCity on board. Everyone was a bit anxious about teaching live lessons, so we made sure we brought in EducationCity to alleviate this. Actually, in Key Stage 2, EducationCity definitely breaks up the learning for the students because they have a lot of Zoom calls, so they can go away and do these as a different instructional method.”

In Key Stage 1 before the pandemic, teachers would use EducationCity in lesson time as a starter or for assessing understanding during the lesson. Following the migration to online education, Nathan says that “EducationCity was useful to give to students as it was linked to the curriculum. Whatever strand we were doing, we could usually find an activity that would back up the day’s instruction. We used it daily during the pandemic to give a break from worksheets and set structured learning with it where it featured in students’ timetables for all the core subjects, so usage has definitely increased. During online lessons, we would explicitly use EducationCity too. Now we have online and offline learning, the children use it more in the school day.”

Reporting & Differentiation Tools to Support Knowledge Gained & Differing Abilities

To ensure students are gaining the knowledge they need, a product area particularly used by the school are the reporting tools on EducationCity. Nathan says that “during home learning, the tracking tools help us with knowing who has done their activities on the correct day set, and we can see their learning.”

Similarly, in Key Stage 2, teachers can see which activities students have completed during distance learning from the reports generated on EducationCity. Sophie says that “we can see which activities students have completed, so we can set activities for revision and see who has that understanding, and then you can also set something you covered a month ago and review knowledge from this too.

“You can also set different activities for different children, so if a student learns at a different level, you can set work for them easily. As you can personalize learning in this way, it is adaptable and beneficial for all levels. There are also different instructional tools such as ThinkIts and Learn Screens, so there are different variations of content that are useful for many students.

Impact of EducationCity on Learning

For Mount Kelly, the availability of resources in all the core subjects throughout the primary levels found on EducationCity supports students as they have a continuity of learning both inside and outside the classroom. Nathan says that “we like the fact that it is not just English and Maths for Key Stage 1, there are phonics activities too and also Science, so all of the core subjects are catered for.”

Furthermore, the resource has been ideal for reinforcing knowledge, as Nick says:

“EducationCity is powerful for reinforcing knowledge gained in lessons as the teacher can stop what they’re doing and set an activity for children to do to help with their learning.”

Conclusively, Mount Kelly has benefitted from EducationCity for providing students with another method of learning to reinforce knowledge and support instruction in and out of the classroom.

Edmentum will continue to work with Mount Kelly to support the school and its staff during this time and beyond in helping every student achieve their full potential.

Discover the success Mount Kelly has had from using EducationCity, by watching our webinar here.