5 Ways Teachers Are Getting Inspired This Summer

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Summertime is typically spent unwinding, unplugging, and for many educators, untangling from the daily rigors of teaching. But summer is also the perfect opportunity to get more familiar with ideas and tools that might take time to understand and use during the school year.

We asked a few teachers how they've been spending their summer months to get inspired. We heard from educators from Alaska, Utah, Puerto Rico, Georgia, and California.

  • PLAYING WITH TECH TOOLS. "This summer I'm playing with many of the tools we want kids to use more of next year – things like ShowMe and InClass, as well as other apps for the iPad, iPod, and iPhone. I'm also experimenting with more Google apps for learning, trying to get more paperless for next year. I'm reading up on many ideas that others have tried to help incorporate mobile devices and social media into classrooms and do so in a way that is safe but engaging to kids. I'm looking at more ways to 'flip' teaching so class time is more productive. Finally, I'm hiking, biking, and having lots of fun so I am refreshed and ready to go back!" – Debbie Brewer, Math/Science teacher, Lumen Christi High School, Anchorage, AK
  • FINDING THE BEST HISTORY VIDEOS. "I took a few weeks to just relax and then spent the last month rewriting my course to get it how I want it for next year, making sure I make all the changes necessary to make it better. I also watch a lot of history videos. I watch them and I'm like, 'I love history! History is so great!' I want to make sure every student loves it, too." – Jennifer Klein, World Civilizations teacher, Open High School of Utah

  • READING, REMODELING, RECHARGING. "This summer, I went to Dallas, Texas and traveled alone by trains and buses to find my way around. It was a first experience for me since I have always traveled in my own car since I was 16. Reading everything that falls into my hands has also been a worthwhile experience this summer. I read Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese. Excellent reading! I have a stack of books waiting for me for the rest of the summer. I've also started to knit and looked into every nook and cranny of my house, cleaning, discarding, refreshing things. I've made dozens of plans to remodel the living room, renovate the terrace, and paint the house in the next two weeks. These four simple things have done wonders to refresh and relax me for the incoming semester."  – N. Vargas, 7th grade English teacher at an all-girls' Catholic school in Puerto Rico
  • MAXING OUT SOCIAL NETWORKING TOOLS. "We're already using Twitter, Facebook, and Edublogs in our course since we went almost totally paperless last year. This summer, I'm using Poll Everywhere during my professional presentations so I can try out their real-time response tracking. Students can respond via weblink, Twitter, or SMS text. Now Poll Everywhere even allows you to download the Flash version of your slide for use with Prezi, so it's a slam dunk for me and my students since we use Prezi far more than PowerPoint. In fact, we pretty much only use PowerPoint to make slides that we'll import into a Prezi. LOL." –  Shekema Holmes Silveri, AP Literature and AP Language teacher, Mt. Zion High School, Jonesboro, Georgia
  • TAPPING INTO THE GREAT TURNING."This summer, I have been spending a lot of time educating myself about the concept of 'The Great Turning.' Essentially, it speaks to this point that we are at in human and environmental existence where almost all of our major systems are in decline. It poses the decision that we must make to either let things decline as they have been or act as 'midwives' birthing into life a new way of relating to each other and the environment. Three major sources for this research have included the work of David Korten (who wrote the book, The Great Turning), Joanna Macy (and her workshop series and subsequent articles on "The Work that Reconnects"), and a wonderful organization called Generation Waking Up who use the concept in their interactive, multimedia, youth activist workshops. As the global issues teacher (education for global citizenship), a constant challenge is for me to simultaneously raise awareness of the devastating effects of our current systems without overwhelming and dis-empowering my intensely compassionate students. I am incredibly excited to bring the concept of 'The Great Turning' into my classroom as a source of hope, that although things look bad, there are an enormous amount of people working across borders and through barriers to take us to a more just and sustainable future.Emily Zionts, Global Issues and Peace Studies teacher, The Woolman Semester, a semester program for juniors, seniors, and gap year students

Teachers, we'd love to hear from you: What are you doing to get inspired this summer?