Saying 'No' to the Slide: 20+ Summer Opportunities for Educators and...

column | Professional Development

Saying 'No' to the Slide: 20+ Summer Opportunities for Educators and Students

By Mary Jo Madda (Columnist)     May 25, 2016

Saying 'No' to the Slide: 20+ Summer Opportunities for Educators and Students

It’s that time of year again—those last few weeks of May, when the bliss of summer break and freedom looms on the horizon. But wait! The work doesn’t stop just because school’s out. The summer offers a wealth of time to flex those learning muscles, for educators and students alike.

In keeping with tradition, EdSurge puts out an annual summer opportunities article each year, and we’re back at it this May to help you prevent the dreaded “summer slide.”

For the full collection of camps, PD sessions and award programs, click here for our updated educator list or our updated student summer opportunities list. Know of a summer opportunity that you don’t see listed? Check out this Google form to submit any opportunities missing from these lists.

Summer Opportunities for Teachers

Online courses and professional development

For those of you hoping to expand your knowledge and professional networks online, we’ve got a few tried-and-true methods (mostly free!).

Twitter chats are one of the most commonly-known methods, and educator Jerry Blumengarten provides his Weekly Twitter Chat Times list to help out fellow teachers, Monday through Sunday. EdSurge itself recently launched #EdSurgeChat on every 1st and 3rd Tuesday of the month.

But it’s not just about Twitter these days. Free and paid summer opportunities are also available from the likes of companies, local schools/universities, and edtech blogs. Here are a few examples:

  • Educator Scott Petri sends us the recommendation of this “Teaching Speaking and Listening” class on Canvas, which runs from June 20 to August 1. The course is geared towards any K-12 teachers looking to add “effective speaking and listening lessons to their repertoire.”
  • For fans of Edmodo, EdmodoCon is an annual live online event where educators from around the world connect with each other to share how they’re using Edmodo and other digital tools to personalize learning. This year’s EdmodoCon takes place on August 2 to 3.

And if you don’t see anything online that floats your boat, try a “summer edtech challenge” that you design yourself, argues Taylor ISD’s JP Hale. Hale, for example, is pushing himself to build a makerspace, learn about Sketchnoting, and figure out how to better integrate the 4 C’s into classroom practice.

In-person professional development and networking

Online learning offers you flexibility, but it doesn’t often replace the utility of human contact and face-to-face conversation—and there’s no better way to meet people than EdCamps. EdCamps are free “unconferences,” organized by the attendees day-of and varied in their topics. According to the official schedule, there are more than 45 scheduled EdCamps between June 1 and August 31st. Reserve your spot today--or throw your own EdCamp!

If you’ve got a bit of $$ to spare, you may also check out one of the many conferences taking place over the summer, from ISTE (June 26-29) to iPadpalooza (June 22-24). When in doubt, the official 2016 EdSurge conference calendar contains a list of 13 edtech conferences (focused on teaching, learning, and the business of edtech) for you to peruse.

Travel and learning abroad

In addition to the conference circuit, traveling to other countries and meeting educators from around the world offers unique learning opportunities difficult to obtain during the busy school year. Teachers Wendy Harris of St. Paul, MN and Laura West of Hot Springs, AR have a collection of summer travel for educators provide suggestions for how to make it happen; Keizai Koho, for examples, offers two-week summer tours in Japan with a focus on education, economics and business. (Note: A number of program applications may already be closed, but are worth keeping in mind for next summer.)

Part-time work and freelancing

With all that free time, why not make a little extra money doing what educators do best—teach, write curriculum, and provide helpful advice? The EdSurge Jobs Guide includes an infographic on how to “moonlight” in edtech, as well as a list of organizations looking for educators to tutor teach or host classes (Udemy, Pathwright, Skillshare, Teachable, Lynda), write lessons and study guides (Learning Bird,, Schmoop), and test or review edtech products (Graphite,

Summer Opportunities for Students

Online learning

From free online practice tools for the SAT to coding training, the internet is abundant with student learning resources. Here are a couple new ones we found that are launching this summer:

  • Nonprofit ReadWorks has released a collection of Summer Reading Packs, arranged by grade level. Teach grade level pack contains ten articles accompanied by lexile scores. You can download the articles individually, or as a pack.
  • For students who love sports or STEM, the NBA recently announced that later this summer, it will be launching Mavs World, a partnership between Minecraft and the Dallas Mavericks. The site will be a Minecraft hub where students can explore the Mavericks’ American Airlines Center or engage in games and activities, including building competitions.


S’mores. Canoes. Arts ‘n crafts. Getting the picture? Well, while those are the archetypal symbols of summer camps, we’re talking about something a bit different: cool, tech-heavy camps like I2 Camps and Galileo Innovation Summer Camps. Take Camp EDMO—this digital media camp was designed in partnership with the Children’s Creativity Museum. Kids learn about video gaming, app creation, maker studios, digital photography, graphic design, and more.


You might’ve read about “online challenges” in our summer articles past, such as the BrainChase Summer Learning Challenge and the Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge; these challenges use gamification and competition to inspire and push kids to stay active over the summer. But now, it appears that other companies are starting to join the ranks of BrainChase with their own twists on the summer challenge:

  • Literacy platform Newsela has launched its “Camp Newsela,” a collection of summer reading clubs for students to read articles and focus on particular topics, like animals, politics, and/or space. While not exactly a challenge, Newsela has said that if students are in a Reading Club with the most completed assignments, those students get to vote on which DonorsChoose project Newsela will give a donation.

For More Opportunities

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

Mary Jo Madda (@MJMadda) is Senior Editor at EdSurge, as well as a former STEM teacher and administrator. In 2016, Mary Jo was named to the Forbes "30 Under 30" list in education.


Get our email newsletterSign me up
Keep up to date with our email newsletterSign me up