Summer is Upon Us!
by John Pearson
Last week, I asked my students to write down their plans for summer vacation. I figured that summer break was closer to the forefront of their brains than elapsed time or multiplication problems. Furthermore, I was curious about what they want to do and how they think they will spend the next few months.
Amazingly, most of my kids wrote that the first thing they would do each day was practice their math facts, write a couple of word problems, and then estimate the number of minutes remaining on summer break.
I'm kidding, of course!
The last thing that most of these kids will think about over the summer is math. This is why, at the beginning of every school year, the fourth grade math teacher asks me why his new kids can't multiply, divide, or subtract – things that most of them do quite well right now.
My answer is always the same – "Because their brains over the summer are like beach balls with a slow leak."
To their credit, a handful of my kids did mention academic pursuits among their list of summer activities. One boy wrote that he will "work on my 4th grade books," while another says he will "do math problems and other fun things." One particularly ambitious girl anticipates that she "will learn how to do seventh grade stuff." I can only hope she's talking about algebra and not smoking in the bathroom.
About 15 of my kids must know what it feels like to win a Super Bowl, because according to their papers, they're going to Disney World! Most of them weren't any more specific about what they were looking forward to doing there, except for one boy who states, "we will get on cool rides that makes us throw-up." Clean up on Space Mountain!
Six Flags over Texas, Sea World, and the local pool were also popular destinations of choice for the summer. From one girl's essay – "All year I have been dieing to go to Six Flags but not literley dieing.” She has been looking a bit peaked.
Many kids turned in a grocery list of all of the places they would be going. These lists included the big locations already mentioned, but also local spots of interest like the Super Target, Cici’s Pizza, and Burger King. Though one girl thoughtfully clarifies, "but as you should know it's not all going to be happening on the same day it's going to take day after day to go to all them places." Right, we don't want to rush the action this summer.
While one child boldly asserts, "Sometimes I will sleep all day," a few others have more entrepreneurly thoughts on their minds. One claims, "I will sell lemonade for $1.00 and after that I will have a garage sale – toys $2.00." Another says, "My friend is going to help me take pictures and I might even get paid for it." A third writes, "I will ask my cousins if they want to start a business with me." Capitalism at work, baby!
To wrap things up, I'll quote one of my little girls with the way she ended her essay – "and that's the end of my plans for the summer. Have a great summer. No for real have a great summer."
Next week, my plans for summer vacation!
John Pearson is a third-grade math and science teacher in Dallas, Texas. He has degrees in mechanical engineering from Duke University and Texas A&M, so most consider his math abilities adequate enough to teach nine-year olds. He is also the author of Learn Me Good (Lulu, 2006), a funny, fictionalized account of his first year in education. Read more at www.learnmegood.com