Brain Food: 20+ Summer Opportunities for Educators and Students

column | Professional Development

Brain Food: 20+ Summer Opportunities for Educators and Students

By Mary Jo Madda (Columnist)     Jun 18, 2015

Brain Food: 20+ Summer Opportunities for Educators and Students

Ring the alarm! ...wait, there’s no alarm. No school bells. And you know what that means? School’s out for summer--but the learning opportunities don’t have to stop quite yet!

Last year, we compiled a selection of resources and opportunities for teachers and students to prevent that tired ol’ “summer slide” and rev up the summertime learning. We’ve brought it back this year (click here for our updated educator list or our updated student summer opportunities list) fresh from winter hibernation, and pulled out a few of our biggest recommendations below.

By the way, got a summer opportunity that you don’t see listed? Here’s a Google form invitation to submit any opportunities missing from these lists.

Summer Opportunities for Teachers

Online courses and professional development

Summer provides the perfect opportunity to meet other educators and develop your professional learning network--either from the comfort of your own home, or out and about.

Too tired or comfortable to leave your bed? Hourlong Twitter chats offer the opportunity to meet other educators, share stories, and gather edtech tools for future use in the classroom--from any device. In fact, educator Jerry Blumengarten provides his Weekly Twitter Chat Times list to help out fellow teachers, Monday through Sunday. Available all summer, free.

Twitter isn’t the only online-resource. In fact, there are hundreds of online courses and tutorials. Check out the edtech organizations in our Professional Development Remix guide for personalized PD and more. Both free and paid summer opportunities are also available from the likes of Coursera, local schools/universities, and edtech sites. Here are some examples:

  1. iPad Tech Training for Teachers: This free iTunes course, developed by Cathedral Catholic High School, contains tutorials for teachers using iPads in a 1:1 environment. Available at any time, free.
  2. Blogs and Social Media for Teachers and School Leaders: This webinar will help you learn how to use blogs and social media (Twitter, Google+, Instagram, and more) to enhance communication between school and home. Runs five weeks from July to August, $147/participant.

And then, there’s always the “generate your own online PD” idea! Alice Keeler, Google fan and edu-blogger, suggests hosting a Google Classroom Summer Edtech Challenge with your PLC or district, where a designated leader issues challenges out to participants to use Google Classroom in fun and creative ways over the summer.

In-person networking and PD

Being on the computer by yourself might get old. In that case, if you want to meet educators face-to-face, try one of the following in-person PD events:

First up, the premiere example is EdCamp (full schedule of EdCamps here), a movement that’s gained a massive following over the past several years. These free “unconferences” break the rules of traditional professional development, and bring together educators from varying walks of life to create the rules and discuss, well, exactly whatever they want to discuss. According to the official schedule, there are more than 45 scheduled EdCamps between June 18 and August 31st. Reserve your spot today--or throw your own EdCamp! Run all summer, free.

EdCamps aren’t the only live networking opportunities for edtech. Universities, tech-savvy schools, and local nonprofit or blogging organizations are holding a slew of in-person edtech events this summer. Here are a couple of our favorites:

  1. ISTE Unplugged: Join hundreds of educators interested in social media, technology, teaching, and learning to build and participate in "unplugged"-style activities sponsored by the International Society for Technology in Education conference. Atlanta, June 26-June 29, free.
  2. EdTech Teacher Summer Workshops: EdTechTeacher hosts edtech 1-2 week how-to sessions with topics like iPad use, becoming a Google expert, and more. Various cities (Atlanta, Austin, Berkeley, Cambridge, Chicago, Los Angeles), Run all summer, $595-745/workshop.

Summer Opportunities for Students


The proverbial summer activity: camp. But not just any types of camp--we’re talking cool, tech-heavy camps, with names like Galileo Innovation summer camps and Camp EdTech (yes, that’s the real name). Take I2 Camps, hosted in locations from Illinois to Kenya. These camps are one-week hands-on STEM summer camps that let kids get their hands on the same stuff that scientists, astronauts, bioethicists, and entrepreneurs deal with, day in and day out. Run all summer, $750/participant/week.

Online Learning

You can also bring some fun instructional exercises directly to kids. For instance:

  1. This year, edX and Khan Academy are both offering resources to help your students stay on track during the summer months. edX will offer more than 60 courses for fighting summer slide, from “Programming in Scratch” to “On-Ramp to AP Physics C: Mechanics.” And if your students are looking for a real programming challenge, check out Khan Academy’s Summer of Scripting, where learners can watch online videos and lessons from Entrepreneurship to Renaissance Art, and sign up for emails tracking their progress and goals. Available all summer, free.
  2. TenMarks hosts a free online summer programs to prevent loss of math skills. The TenMarks program, available to families, offers adaptive math exercises for students in grades 1 through high school. One possibility? Work a system out with the teacher in the grade level above yours to offer extra credit to students upon completion of the program. Available all summer, free.
  3. It’s never too early to start studying for the SAT, high schoolers. Why not check out these free online practice tools for the SAT to get prepared for the test? Students can choose material developed for the current SAT or for the redesigned version, which will first be offered in March 2016. Available all summer, free.


Sometimes the best tools in a summer activity kit are a little gamified, a little incentivized… or merely glammed up with the moniker of a “challenge.” A few of our favorites include:

  1. Brain Chase Summer Learning Challenge: A 6-week summer learning challenge disguised as a massive global treasure hunt for 2nd−8th graders. Students find the key to a safe deposit box holding a $10,000 college scholarship fund! Begins June 22 and runs all summer, $199 first student / $100 per student thereafter, or $249 per student for premium package.
  2. Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge: Challenge your students to read as much as possible! Runs all summer, free.

For More Opportunities

As we mentioned above, submit opportunities to our summer list, or check out our Opportunities Page for other postings. Happy learning!

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