Summer Project Ideas

Planning Summer Projects: During the summer, we organize our curriculum around projects. Here are some summer project ideas. Remember that projects work very well during regular 9-week terms because they effectively integrate content with level appropriate language skills.

From Debbie Hanley: Debbie’s summer project, Taking Charge of Our Lives, is named after a reading supplement she currently uses in her ESL 899 bridging class. Each week there will be a featured speaker from the community who, with hard work and dedication, has made a success of his/her life. The five invited speakers will share their stories following the 3- part outline:

• Their youth and obstacles they had to overcome
• Their lives now and the success they enjoy
• The three most important pieces of advice they can offer us

Mondays will focus on “Taking Charge of our lives Personally” with readings and research on topics such as time management, goal setting and personal issues. Tuesdays will be on “Taking Charge of Our Lives Academically” using a video series on academic success in college. Wednesdays and Thursdays will be “Taking Charge of Their Lives” which will focus on others’ successes using our class text, the featured speakers and follow-up discussion and written reaction. The culminating activity during the 6th week of class will be students’ own 5-8 minute video-taped presentations on “Taking Charge of MY Life” based on what they learned from the readings, research, speakers and each other!

From Sarina Molina: Sarina shared two project ideas she has used in previous classes.

Idea #1
Last summer, in Sarina’s credit ESL 802 class, she had students (in addition to the writing lessons) do a summer reading project, where they selected two classics from the Penguin Readers at the library. The students developed a) dictionary of vocabulary words b) wrote a short synopsis of what they read everyday including character analysis and plot c) did period presentations on their story's plot in the literary circle
d) researched the historical period in which their story took place
e) developed a final pictorial poster board session and/or power point presentation including the historical overview and the story's main plot
f) presented on how their life, perspective has changed as a result of reading the book
g) wrote two book reports summarizing their findings.

Idea #2
Last summer, Sarina was teaching her students how to write descriptive paragraphs in Credit ESL 802. She decided to create a class book project. In essence, the students were first asked to go out and observe different aspects of nature on the Oceanside campus. The students were then asked to write as many descriptive terms to capture the moment and come back to class. They shared what they saw and described this for the rest of the class. They were then asked to write a paragraph about what they observed. The class went through the reviewing, proofreading, and editing process. Students were also asked to go online and download an image to include as part of their descriptive paragraphs. Sarina had students email all their paragraphs and images to her, and she formatted and created a book for all of them to keep. Attached is a copy of what Sarina and her students produced.

View Descriptive Paragraphs on the Beauty of MiraCosta College Booklet (PDF)

From Sylvia Ramirez: In the last issue of The Communicator, I featured a goal setting idea from Ron Fugihara from Long Beach Adult School. I couldn’t wait to use his Goal Form with my multi-level ESL Class. Research on Learner Persistence emphasizes the importance of working with students to set short and long term goals. We ask our students, “Why are you coming to school?, and they inevitably answer “to learn English,” However, this answer does not help them focus on specific steps they need to achieve that nebulous desire of learning English. Goal setting helps students identify realistic goals that are achievable within a certain period of time. Then students can move step-by-step through the activities to achieve the goals. They own the process and the results.
In my class, I took digital photos of all the students and helped them complete the Goal Form. Here are the steps I used: I worked together with students to:

1) brainstorm realistic and attainable goal statements. For example: “to learn English” is too general, and “learn 5 vocabulary words:” is too specific.
2) complete the Goal Form, and after revisions, type the information and insert digital picture.
3) present Goal Form information to class, sign the form, and post it on the classroom wall.
4) review Goal Forms periodically and make changes as needed.
5) complete a writing activity to document progress towards goal attainment.

At the end of the term, students read their final paragraphs and took their Goal Forms home. If anyone is interested in doing this project this summer, I’d be happy to help you take the digital photos and assist students with their Goal Forms.

View Sample Goal Form (PDF)
View Sample Goal Form Model Paragraph (PDF)

One More Project Idea: A research report from the California Adult Literacy Project highlighted a class project where students used disposable cameras to take self-chosen visual images to represent themselves, their workplace, families, and communities. Learning activities included identifying vocabulary words from the photos, creating pictures dictionaries, making presentations, and writing stories about the photos. The photos generated discussion topics about working conditions, work-family balance, and workplace improvements. Students learned from each other the opportunities and challenges they all faced living in the United States.