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Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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Summertime Idea

I want to share an idea I had for my gifted students~ but I believe would enhance the summer education of any childand make parents appreciative as well.

After receiving questions about what their gifted child could do over the summer~ I proposed the idea of having my students continue their independent research or create new research projects to work on during the summertime. I then provide parents with a project outline that helps both the parent and child navigate the process.

Let me give you a breakdown of how it works:

First~ you need to understand the process of creating an independent study project. Essentially~ students select a topic that strongly interests them; they research the topic using all available resources. They then create a product that displays what they have learned and share that product with an audience.

For example~ one of my students was interested in energy-saving methods used in buildings such as schools. After researching the topic~ including interviewing an energy expert with the federal government~ he came up with the idea of forming an energy patrol among students at the school~ whose job would be to remind teachers and other students to take energy-saving measures such as turning off computers over the weekend. His product became the formation of the club~ and his audience was the entire school population.

Now~ back to the summer project. During the last week of school~ I intend to have my students outline new research projects based on their passions and interests and document those plans using a software program called Renzulli Learning. Parents and students can access the program at home~ which will allow students to revisit their outlines and use the program to record notes~ locate resources~ etc. If you dont have access to Renzulli~ you can possibly use a wiki space page or teacher-created website as a template for the student projects.

I also e-mailed home a summary sheet of how to conduct a research project so parents would have some guidance.

Finally~ I told parents and students they could e-mail questions or comments during the summer break regarding the project (This part is optional and only for those teachers insane enough to never really take a break )

Parents have expressed appreciation over this summer project idea since something students can pursue with a little imagination and a computer with Internet access~ which serves as an alternative to expensive summer camps.
Let me know what you think of this idea or feel free to contact me with questions at [email protected].