Summer learning loss has become a major concern to educators when students walk out of the classroom on the last day of school. That is especially true in a year when teachers had to fight extra hard to make up for the lost learning time that occurred due to remote/distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. The question is, "how to keep children learning over the summer?"
After nearly a year of atypical education, many schools feel ready to get students back on the ball and start re-engaging them in learning, and what better way to do so than summer camp!
Recently, Trafera sent its Education Initiative Team to Farmerville, LA to work with Carla McPherson, the tech director of D'Arbonne Woods Charter School, to put on a week-long STEM camp to get students excited about science and technology. With activities ranging from building bird nests, to exploding Mentos in Diet Coke, Trafera stood hand in hand with D'Arbonne Woods to help students fall in love with learning.
Summer learning loss among students
Summer learning loss–also referred to as "summer setback" or "summer slide"–is the phenomenon when students return to school in the fall with lower academic achievement levels than they had at the end of the previous year. Over the course of the summer break, while students are removed from an academic setting, some of the knowledge that they worked hard to build all year is lost.
One study showed that students in grades 2-9 lost around 25-30% of the knowledge they had gained the previous year1. That can lead to weeks, if not months, at the beginning of the academic year being spent catching students back up to where they left off before the break.
Combatting summer setback
One way to fight back against learning loss is keeping student's brains engaged throughout the summer. Whether through summer reading, gamified learning, or at-home STEM/STEAM activities, a little can go a long way toward maintaining educational momentum.
Fighting back against summer slide is so important right now that 1% of CARES Act funding has been allocated specifically towards initiatives that address learning recovery. That includes summer camps, after-school programs, and more.
Education Initiatives and TRAILS
When Trafera launched in early 2021 (as a result of a merger betwee FireFly Computers and Trinity3 Technology), we recommitted ourselves to helping schools transform educational experiences through the technology we provide. We did so by making a major investment in an Education Initiatives Team made up of talented and experienced educators. This team works nonstop to develop resources and services to help schools take their technology further in the classroom and truly transform learning.
"Our worst-case scenario," says Josh Ratliff, Director of Education Initiatives at Trafera, "is to provide schools with all this great technology, but then to have instruction continue on the way it always has.
We want to help schools take those new tools and use them effectively to create amazing learning opportunities in the classroom."
Trafera's first response to this mission was developing TRAILS; a digital lesson library designed to build teacher tech fluency. Written by award-winning, Ted-Talk giving educators, the TRAILS Library features grab-n-go lessons that introduce teachers to new tech tools and concepts that help them engage their students in deeper ways using classroom technology and apps.
A STEM camp is born
While working with her long-time Trafera rep on summer technology planning (including plans to implement TRAILS in their 2021-22 curriculum), Carla McPherson of D'Arbonne Woods Charter School cooked up the idea for a week-long STEM Camp (TRAILS Camp) using some of the TRAILS lessons and activities.
The camp was ideated around STEM education and service-learning. Older students from D'Arbonne's Beta Club would help facilitate 5 days of fun for K-6 students, where they would be introduced to the scientific method, run their own experiments, and make a huge mess along the way.
Take that, summer slide!
TRAILS Camp wasn't all fun and games... Ok maybe it was, but every activity that students participated in–from engineering their own boats to making ice cream–was built with rigorous standards for learning in mind. Students were introduced to concepts like the conservation and states of matter, binary code, and problem-based design.
"One of the main objectives of TRAILS Camp is to drive scientific inquiry," says Anna Hanrahan, Education Initiatives Specialist at Trafera. "We are really wanting to engage our students with hands-on learning and opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise have."
By the end of the week, students were able to draw from the memorable experiences they had to recall key concepts, demonstrating their grip on lessons taught throughout the week. By keeping their minds active and curious, the students at D'Arbonne Woods Charter School took a major step towards reducing summer setback.
At TRAILS Camp, learning goes beyond teaching kids new information. It gives students an opportunity to use technology to fall in love learning.
Bring TRAILS Camp to your school!
At Trafera, we believe technology only improves learning experiences when we make people our number one investment. With Trafera on your team, we’ll work together to navigate the complexities of today’s learning environment in a supportive and empowering way. That includes providing federal funding assistance, hosting STEM camps to address summer learning loss, and providing a wealth of resources from the edtech community.
We partner with trusted brands like HP, Lenovo, Microsoft, and Google to provide students and educators with the tools and technology they need to transform their learning experiences in 2021 and beyond.
Trafera is a leading national provider of Chromebooks, laptops, full-service warranties, interactive whiteboards, charging stations, and more.
Contact us today to learn more about combatting summer slide at your school with Trafera and TRAILS.
 Atteberry, A., & McEachin, A. (2016). School’s out: Summer learning loss across grade levels and school contexts in the United States today. In Alexander, K., Pitcock, S., & Boulay, M. (Eds). Summer learning and summer learning loss, pp35-54. New York: Teachers College Press.