Can technology help prevent summer regression?

For many learners, summer is a great time to explore new and different activities such as sports, camp and going to the beach. Growing up I had the opportunities to swim, sail and play tennis with none of the summer spent doing academic related work.

Today it seems every school and grade level has required packets or summer reading. For our school, parents may request work, and many do. Is it to get ahead? More rather to prevent summer regression. For all students there is a component of loss, but for students with learning disabilities there is a greater concern. Many of our parents additionally seek tutoring to maintain gains through the summer. But when learning is more challenging, is there also a greater risk of burn out?

I spent July tutoring one of my students from the past school year. Regression is of concern, but as I saw through the month, so was burn out that might impede his progress. This student put in a lot of hard work through the past year and really needed a break. I appreciate where he is coming from after working and going to grad school over the past year, I was feeling burn out myself. So how do we balance the work he needs to do, while giving him the break he needs?

Enter the iPad!

This student loves his iPad. Throughout the year he had opportunities to work with reading and math apps and enjoyed that time. So with his parent’s permission, he and I spent some time trying more apps and downloading them on to his device. He is willing to spend time with these apps because he also knows he needs to keep working, but also they are fun. So it is a win win. Learning and reinforcement will keep happening, but he doesn’t have to come to school and spend time in the classroom to do it during the much earned summer break. He gets the month of August to do all the other activities he loves and his parents get the piece of mind that he can still work on his skills. I am hopeful for the summer experiment, as I saw it work during the year.

Over the past school year, a math student of mine spent time working with math apps on an iPad he receive from a grant. His parents reported that he willingly spent at least 20 minutes a day playing with these apps. He would come to my class and share new and exciting math apps with his classmates, leading to them going home and downloading them too. Over the year, I noted an improvement in his math interest and skills. While I would like to think it was all my teaching, I truly think it was the extra time and increased interest that came from his work with his iPad.

The iPad and other technologies are proving to be great tools in the classroom, but also may prove to help outside as well. Teachers need to be the leaders in teaching students and parents how these tools can be utilized at home to support learning, particularly during the summer.

What ways do you see technology impeding summer regression?

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About Sharon LePage Plante

Sharon Plante, an educator with 20 years teaching experience in special education, has been an educator at Eagle Hill-Southport for over eleven years, as well as currently serving as Director of Technology. She utilizes her educational training and love of technology to engage students with learning disabilities in building their skills and finding success. Sharon is the co-author of Using Technology to Engage Students with Learning Disabilities. She was awarded the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award from George Mason University College of Education and Human Development. She has presented at Everyone Reading, EdRev, Edscape, ATIA (Assistive Technology Industry Association), and New York Chapter of ALTA (Academic Language Trainers Association), as well as at several EdCamps, on using technology to empower the dyslexic learner. Sharon is the 2015-2017 chair of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools Commission on Technology. Additionally, she hosts a podcast for Bam Radio Network on Learning Differently bringing together the voices of those working in the many aspects of special education. Sharon is a co-founder of #edtechchat, and co-organizer of EdCampSWCT.
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