Friday, 21 July 2017

Response: Schools let students take laptops home in hopes of curbing summer slide

I recently read an article called Schools Let Students Take Laptops Home In Hopes Of Curbing 'Summer Slide' which was published in June 2017.

This particular article is based in America, however discusses a global issue; the summer slide.
In Manaiakalani schools, this is often called the 'summer drop off'. For non-teaching friends, this refers to the loss of learning children experience over summer when they are not attending school everyday. This caught my attention as in my recent data analysis, most of my students hadn't moved between Term 4 last year and Term 2 this year. In fact, they had fallen very far down, and I had spent two terms pulling them back to where they were. Good ole' summer slide.
It's very difficult, and incredibly frustrating.

From this article I pulled a few key quotes -

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"But, there is no research yet to show whether device distribution cuts back on summer slide, the learning losses most acutely experienced by lower income students during the summer when lessons from the school year are forgotten."
My response: Well actually, there is some data. Manaiakalani has implemented a programme called the Summer Learning Journey which aims to reduce the summer slide/drop off by giving students learning to do over the summer break and encouraging them to blog about it as well. Their results are publicly available here.


"I think we tend to have this idyllic view of what childhood summers are, but the reality is that for kids living in poverty, summer can be a time of isolation and hunger."
"Parents in low-income neighbourhoods want to learn along with their children and are interested in being part of the digital age," she said. "Kids shouldn't just be given the equipment and told 'go.' They should be given content recommendations along with that."Overall thoughts - I am excited to get discussions underway for how my school and I can make it work, so year 5/6 students have the opportunity to take their netbooks home and participate in the learning journeys. My principal has already brainstormed some ideas about how we can make this happen and I am so on board.


My response: The first week back at school and the usual 'what did you do in the holidays?' is a very quick conversation in my class. A typical response is "nothing miss". Some students do not leave the neighbourhood, most do not leave East Auckland altogether. Parents are working, so often my students stay at home with an aunt, older sibling or grandparent. They report back on what movies they watched on TV and how they came to the school playground to play (our grounds are open). It makes me so sad. During the holidays, I often think of some of my students in particular (very few, but they are there) and genuinely wonder if they have been fed today, whose house they are at and if anybody is taking care of them. Poverty is hard. 
I often have students say they don't want to go on summer holidays because home is boring. School at least has friends, if not the learning bit. 

My response: Absolutely. When parents come in for Whanau Conferences, they want to know what they kids are doing online and learning to do. They want to be involved and learn alongside their child. That's one thing I like about the Summer Learning Journey, is that the parents can get involved and the tasks can be done together. 

I really want my students to get involved with the Summer Learning Journey this year, so next year their teacher doesn't spend half their year scraping back the learning they have already done. There is a Winter Learning Journey as well, for the Term 2/3 holidays. 
Currently, my students are not allowed to take their netbooks home as they are only year 5 and 6. 

5 comments:

  1. I am interested to hear how you go with getting the students access to their devices outside of school, Ashley. I am gobsmacked, but also not surprised at all, how long it is has taken you to get your learners back up to scratch after the summer drop off - isn't it so sad? I often feel I am repeating myself over and over. I am interested in the summer learning journey too - but I am really unsure how to encourage and implement it for my seniors.. something I need to ponder. Looking forward to seeing further of your reflections!

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    1. Yes it's definitely frustrating, having to go over and over the same content but that's what our students need and hence what we need to do. If/when we get to a resolution for taking the netbooks home, I'll let you know :)

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  2. I am really keen to hear how the Winter Learning Journey went for your class. We had our largest number of participants yet and lots of high quality engagement coming from the kids across the CoL. How many of your kids took part?

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    1. None of my students took part unfortunately, as our year 5/6 students are not allowed to take their netbooks home. All of my students don't have computers at home so couldn't do it without their school netbooks. Rhonda, myself and a few others talked about how we might run another Kawa of Care session before Christmas, so students at year 5/6 can get permission to take their netbook home for the Summer Learning Journey.

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