Summer Bucket List for English Language Arts Teachers

The end of the school year is near and summer is calling! Teachers, as well as students, need to take time for themselves, so they can be rested and recharged when school starts up again. After ten years of teaching, I have come to understand the importance of rest during the summer months. Saying that, and if you're anything like me, it's hard to not want to start to plan for my upcoming fall classes half-way through summer vacation. So, I've come up with a few ways where you can still keep your future classes in mind, while also getting that must-needed summer rejuvenation. This list, like the popular saying goes, will help you to kill two birds with one stone!

Capture your summer memories and use those photos as a basis for a writing activity. Whether your final destination is somewhere new or places you've traveled before, take time to stop and take some photos that stand out. Capture things like beautiful scenery or items that just catch your eye, both are great ways to share memories and special moments of your summer vacation with your students. You don't need to go far to find cool things to share, they are probably right in your own backyard or community. In the past, I have used photos that I have taken on my summer break to use as visual prompts (which can be used at any time of the year). In addition, I have made a short, PowerPoint slide of images sharing my summer vacation with my students as a 'get to know your teacher' type of activity. The great thing is you can be as public or as private about these images as you'd like, I just found it a nice segway to share a little about me, before I asked them to share information about themselves. The best part? You don't need a fancy camera! Just use your phone!

What books were your students reading this year? Which of those books do you think you might like to read yourself? A great way to expand your literature circle book choices is to select books that your students are drawn to. If you are offering choice throughout a year for either independent novel studies or lit circles, selecting books that your students are already reading, is a great way to entice your non-readers, as well as your readers, as those books selections are probably on their must-read list anyway! It's hard to be able to read every book that your students come across in your classroom, but by reading books that they are interested in and being able to respond to them in a more personal way from  reading the book yourself, is a great way to build a connection with a student. In addition, the novels that your students may be reading are likely not super lengthy, so you should be able to get through a few during your time off! :)  Grab this FREE book recommendation handout HERE to get started today! As a quick end-of-the-year activity, have students recommend books to you.

Is the book always better than the movie? Let your students decide, while practicing important ELA debate skills! Check out a new or existing flick during your summer vacation that you have not had the opportunity to watch yet and use this as the basis for a compare and contrast activity! It's really a win-win for all involved, you get to enjoy a film that may have been on your list for quite some time, and you don't have to worry about rushing to watch it a few days before showing it to your students, because you will already know what it's about.

Here's a list of our favorite books that have been turned into movies:
  • The Classroom Sparrow recommends: The Help
  • Addie Williams recommends: The Princess Bride
  • The SuperHERO Teacher recommends: Wonder
  • Stacey Lloyd recommends: Life of Pi
  • Secondary Sara recommends: The Giver
  • Nouvelle ELA recommends: Stardust
  • Room 213 recommends: Anne of Green Gables
  • The Daring English Teacher recommends: The DaVinci Code
  • Presto Plans recommends: Water for Elephants
This one is personally at the top of my list! I have always wanted to set up an account where students and parents of my classroom could access, Instagram in particular. I like Instagram because it's super easy to use and it seems like both students and parents use it as well. If you have several different classes, it may seem like a lot of work to manage four different accounts, so maybe try this out for one or two classes for the first semester or for those courses where having a classroom social media account would the most practical. For example, to start, I am going to set up a private class account for my grade 9 ELA class. Since high school has a tendency to be a lot different from middle school, students may need a few more reminders about due dates and upcoming assignments and parents can stay on top of it using this account. Providing parents have signed the necessary waivers for media and technology to allow images of their students, you can post pictures of students working (with or without their faces shown, depending on the parents' wishes). For the purpose of my account, I will only be posting images of upcoming due dates and reminders (for example, by taking pictures of the whiteboard), special events in the school (for example, by taking pictures of posters around the school), as well as work in progress photos and/or finished products posted in and around my classroom. If I decide to show student photos, I won't show their faces (for the sake of management). By having a private account, only parents and students of that particular class can access those images.

Here are a few images from my own classroom that I could share on my class Instagram:

Organize your own space and use things that you find as incentives for your students! Not only will this organization bring you some inner peace, but it will also bring light to your students, especially if one seems to be having a bad day! Like many teachers, I have a tendency to buy things (#TeacherProblems) and never use them. They look cool, but in reality, I just don't need them (#Target). Some of the things that I have located in my cleaning travels that I no longer have use for include: stickers, books, writing utensils, notebooks, sticky notes, markers, decor items, etc. For example, I have used these items as incentives for receiving full marks on grammar quizzes, winning a classroom spelling bee, or even for showing full participation in a classroom debate, for example. You will feel better about your own space being cleaned and organized and your students will appreciate the gift, no matter how small! Happy organizing! 😀

Click HERE to get your list started today!
Back to Top