Four Instructional Techniques to Support Credit Recovery

While many students utilize summer school as an opportunity to accelerate their path to a diploma, the majority attend to recover previously missed or failed credits. Summer learning programs offer an opportunity to intervene before missed credits accumulate and to get at-risk students back on track to graduate with their cohort.

The importance of summer programs is clear, but the reality is that some students may have not had positive experiences throughout their academic careers. The likelihood of a student dropping out increases exponentially with every failed credit. The responsibility for individual student persistence falls to many different stakeholders—administrators, guidance counselors, educators, parents and guardians, students themselves, and of course, summer school teachers. In many cases, it is an individual teacher who holds the key to finding meaningful ways for students to reengage, persevere, and achieve success.

Here are four instructional best practices for administrators and teachers to consider when getting ready for summer school classes.

1. Acknowledge that adolescence is challenging

There is no way around this truth. High school presents an ongoing series of social and emotional challenges for every student, even under the best of circumstances. Students in summer school programs have possibly faced more than their fair share of these challenges. They need to know that you acknowledge this and are more than happy to listen to their concerns. Remind your students that if they are struggling, you are there to help. Prioritize social and emotional learning (SEL) concepts like building strong relationships, and intentionally make your classroom space a place for respectful conversation, both inside and outside of class time. 

2. Remember that confusion is the first step to learning

This is one of the hardest lessons for any person—educators included—to truly digest. Coming to a place of confusion is a prerequisite to learning anything new because it provides the impetus and motivation to get started. After that, it’s all about embracing the journey. Individual learners are only likely to persevere if they feel safe and supported and are encouraged to take risks. Strive to make your classroom a place where asking questions, making mistakes, and attempting new things is the norm, not the exception. It’s OK for you to not have all the answers or make mistakes in front of your students—doing so offers profound teachable moments as students watch you own your confusion and move forward.

3. Vary instructional approaches to cater to different learning styles

Most educators are familiar with Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, and many have been trained to play to students’ strengths in terms of visual, audial, kinesthetic, and other learning models. However, to be truly effective teachers need to extend this approach beyond the initial instructional phase, especially when working with students who may have already struggled with the material. If students are unlikely to grasp what’s being presented on the first try, then other formats must be leveraged for them to approach the material again. Providing resources in various modalities that students can review independently, such as lecture notes, PowerPoint presentations, and Khan Academy videos, is one way to support different learning styles and help students learn to “teach” themselves—a skill that translates far beyond the classroom. Doing so also frees up class time for meaningful, active, “sticky” learning that incorporates questioning, dialogue, and interactive group sessions.

Effective teachers also use formative assessments consistently to check for understanding—highly effective teachers have a strategy for reteaching the same material in a different format whenever students haven’t fully grasped a subject. From the outset of your summer program, make sure that students understand their individual learning styles and preferences, encourage them to request and find materials that meet their needs, and always remain open and ready to make adjustments.

4. Provide opportunities for unit recovery

Summer programs are all about helping students get back on track for graduation, so it’s critical to stay intentional about finding creative ways for students to avoid falling behind in the first place. A good place to start is to consider options for unit recovery. If a student fails a unit test or other summative assessment, are there ways for that student to reclaim that specific material and demonstrate mastery before being assigned a failing grade for the entire class?

Online programs can offer resources to make unit recovery feasible. In Courseware, the Flex Assignments feature allows educators to assign tailored lessons and create specific recovery assignments that will give students an opportunity to get back on track individually or as a group. Or, for students simply in need of additional practice to achieve real comprehension, Study Island can provide targeted assignments organized by individual curricular strands and offer students the chance to work through these sets multiple times if needed. In the process, both of these Edmentum International solutions provide teachers with detailed data to drive in-person instruction, including the amount of working time spent by individual students, attempts made, concepts mastered, and areas where they are still struggling.   

Four Ways to Encourage Students to Keep Learning This Summer with Study Island

This summer continued learning is going to be more critical than ever. With varied school closures, virtual and hybrid learning, and frequently changing classroom environments, it’s difficult to say how catching up with learning will be looking at this year. Although it’s good to remember that each summer, learning loss occurs. Most students lose two months of math skills every summer, and two-thirds of the achievement gap in reading between low-income students and their middle-income peers can be attributed to summer learning loss in elementary school. Due to this, 9 in 10 teachers spend at least three weeks re-teaching lessons when school begins again. Why accept summer learning loss when you can fight it? With Study Island, you can run a summer learning program, virtually or in-person, consisting of skills practice in all core content areas, as well as additional activities in writing and reading.

Explore our four tips to keep students learning over the summer.

1. Skills Practice

Skills practice is a great way to ensure that students continue learning all summer long. Why not give it a shot this summer by running your own summer skills practice program with Study Island? You can get students to earn Blue Ribbons throughout the vacation months by asking them to demonstrate mastery in Study Island topics. Here are a couple of ways to get started:

  • Assign students specific topics through the class manager.
  • Ask students to work directly from the Study Island topics page, promoting consistent practice by creating a calendar that explains which topics to work on each day.
  • If you will be actively monitoring Study Island over the summer, you can also respond to student questions through the Study Island Message Center.

2. Summer Writing

Summer writing activities give students the opportunity to practice different types of writing, including skills-based writing, creative writing, and reflective writing (where students respond to a current event, linked news story, or piece of literature). Study Island Writing Assignments give you the flexibility to either assign one of our prebuilt writing prompts or create your own. As an added benefit, students’ writing portfolios will give their new teachers valuable insights into students’ writing styles, interests, strengths, and weaknesses.

Summer Writing Practice Tips

  • Create assignments ahead of time and provide clear due dates. Make sure that all assignments are active at the end of the school year.
  • Give feedback on students’ writing submissions to provide encouragement and help them improve.
  • Ask students to print out and turn in their writing portfolios at the end of the summer to earn a reward or entrance into a summer learning celebration. 

3. Summer Reading

Reading over the summer is one of the simplest ways for students to combat boredom; increase vocabulary, fluency, and comprehension skills; and explore books that they don’t have time to read during the school year. Two effective ways that you can reinforce summer reading are to create a summer reading program in which students read self-selected books and to launch a book study program where students all read the same book.

Tips for a Self-Selected Reading Program

  • Assign a specific amount of reading time each day. If you’re also launching a skills practice program, this can be added to the same calendar.
  • Use Study Island Writing Assignments to create weekly open-ended reading reflection prompts. Prompts should be general enough to apply to any book.

Ensure that your students have access to a variety of books at their reading levels by offering addresses to local libraries, helping students obtain library cards, and teaching students strategies for selecting books at an appropriate level for them.

Tips for Summer Book Study

  • Select specific books for students to read over the summer. Select several options for students to choose from, and give students the freedom to pick which book study to participate in. This way, they are more likely to begin reading a book that they will enjoy.
  • Use Study Island Writing Assignments to assign open-ended questions for students to respond to each week.
  • Use Study Island Custom Material to create custom quizzes containing multiple-choice, short-answer, and true-false questions. These quizzes can be assigned to students with specific due dates that align with the pace at which students should be reading.

4. Run a Summer Blue Ribbon or Questions Contest

Want to keep students working over the summer without running a full program? Not a problem! You can quickly and easily run a simple Study Island Blue Ribbon or questions contest. All you need is internet access, student logins, and some prizes, and then you’re all set.

Summer Virtual Learning Program Tips for Success

If your school isn’t holding summer school in person this year, you can still run multiple programs this summer virtually. Whether you decide to implement skills practice, summer writing, summer reading, or a Blue Ribbon contest, it’s key to ensure that students are engaged, expectations are clear, and parents are bought in. Here are some tips for enhancing the overall success of your summer program:

  • Set clear expectations. Be sure that students know what to do and how to access the program.
  • Ensure that all students have access to a computer or mobile device and the Internet. All of your students may not have home Internet access, so it will be helpful to provide a list of places in the community, like public libraries and recreation centers, where students can use a public computer and access a free Internet connection if you plan to implement your program virtually.
  • Involve parents. Because this program will be taking place away from school, parental support is critical to the program’s success. Host a parent night before the school year ends to fully explain expectations and gain buy-in. Be sure to provide student logins and collect email addresses from parents. This will help as you set up Study Island Parent Notifications.

9 Questions to Think About When Planning Virtual Summer School Programming

Summer school might look a little different this year for many educators, schools, and students. Schools are looking at new models and may even open summer schools up to a broader range of students than in the past. Many will include a digital or virtual component for potentially the first time, so we thought it would be helpful to put together a list of things to consider if you are planning your virtual program.

These questions are designed to help you review the type of virtual summer school program you are looking to offer, the students you are looking to serve, and the instruction and staffing that will be needed for a successful program.

1. What type of virtual summer school programming do you plan to offer?

  • Fully automated, self-directed?
  • Guided with educator support?
  • Set a schedule with direct instruction?
  • Options through a 3rd party?

 2. What additional resources are needed for a successful program?

  • Staffing?
  • Online curriculum and programming?
  • Technology?

 3. What will the eligibility criteria for student summer enrollment be?

  • First come, first serve basis?
  • Educator identified struggling students?
  • Students in need of credit recovery?

4. How will the program be structured?

  • Will attendance be taken?
  • Must students complete the entire summer semester?
  • Can students work at their own pace?

5. How will student progress and program data be tracked?

  • What technologies and systems will be used?
  • Who will oversee and monitor data?
  • Who will run student intervention?

6. What are the program policies?

  • How will assignments be turned in?
  • How will grading be managed?
  • How will completion be determined?
  • Letter grade or pass/fail grading?

 7. What are the expectations for program content?

  • Is it aligned to local standards?
  • Does programming need to be customized?
  • Will full-course or portion earned credit be offered?

8. Who will be the main points of contact for program and support-related questions?

  • Contact overseeing all summer programming?
  • Contact for participating educators?
  • Contact for enrolled students?
  • Contact for parents of enrolled students?

9. What are the expectations for all stakeholders?

  • Administrators?
  • Teachers?
  • Students?
  • Parents?

Looking for online programs to support your teachers and students this summer? Explore Edmentum International to learn more about our suite of educational programs that are designed to help you to individualize learning for every student. Edmentum supports and empowers educators in delivering world-class education to each and every student, equalizing the chance of academic success.

Five Ways to Implement EdOptions Academy Virtual Courses in Your Summer School Program

Whether students need to make up missing credits, want to get ahead on college or career requirements, or need to work around hectic school-year class schedules, summer school programs are a great opportunity for students to make progress toward academic goals. However, managing the logistics of these programs, and making the most of limited resources, can be a continual challenge for educators. Working with a virtual learning partner like Edmentum International’s EdOptions Academy can ease some of that pressure and offer students expanded, flexible options for summer learning.

Ready to get a head start on summer your planning process? Here are five different ways that EdOptions Academy online courses can be implemented in your summer school program.

Independent Credit Recovery

Offering EdOptions Academy courses for independent completion can be a practical summer school model. Students have the flexibility to work when and where they want, and administrators are able to monitor progress, control the courses available to students for enrollment, and determine the timeframe students are to complete their summer courses. This model can be an effective approach for schools looking to stay virtual for summer school, for students who have struggled with the classroom environment in the past or need the flexibility to manage significant family or work commitments.

Extended School Year

This summer school model allows students who need more time to complete school-year courses to stay on track with their cohort for graduation in the four-year timeframe. Students can be enrolled in an EdOptions Academy course that is equivalent to the course they were originally enrolled in during the spring semester. This way, they get to keep the continuity of learning as soon as summer begins. In some cases, students may need to work on completing multiple courses simultaneously.

Lab-Based Credit Recovery

Credit recovery is the most common use for summer school, and a majority of programs are conducted on-site so that schools and educators can provide the greatest level of guidance and oversight to students. In this format, students are enrolled in EdOptions Academy virtual courses taught by our certified teachers but are required to spend time in a supervised lab working through their lessons and assignments, where they can take advantage of additional support from school staff. Generally, the expectation is that students will work in the lab between three to seven hours a day and spend additional time working at home. Schools have held these programs for anywhere from two to six weeks, and students are expected to finish their coursework within the set timeframe. If students complete their course(s) early, they no longer need to attend the lab time.

Credit Advancement

This summer school model allows students to take EdOptions Academy courses for original credit in order to free up space in the school-year schedule for specific courses or prepare for post-secondary requirements. This can be a great way to overcome scheduling challenges for students interested in taking several elective courses or advanced courses offered at only limited times. And, for students with very clear college and career goals, summer credit advancement programs can be a great way to get ahead and set themselves apart on applications. This type of program can be offered in either a lab or independent format, but it is important to make sure that the timeframe for students to complete their credit advancement courses ends before the first day of school because students generally need these courses as prerequisites for regular school-year courses.

Parent-Paid Credit Recovery or Advancement

This model allows parents to pay for summer courses instead of the school. Students can be enrolled as EdOptions Academy students, and they follow the guidelines for EdOptions Academy’s nine-week-long summer courses. With this model, students will have a very similar experience to what they would have with a school-sponsored independent experience. However, because enrollment will be through EdOptions Academy’s fully accredited virtual school, your school will not have access to view students’ progress. Instead, EdOptions Academy will send a transcript to your school for students’ official grades to be entered as transfer credit. This approach can be effective if funding is especially tight or if your school’s existing summer offerings are more traditional, on-site programming and parents are looking for alternative options.

Interested in learning more about how your school can partner with Edmentum International EdOptions Academy for engaging, cost-effective summer learning? Check out our complete brochure.

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 five 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.