Those of you who have been checking in on my Facebook page this summer know that I had an absolute blast teaching in the Extended Year Program. This was my first summer school experience in my new district, and---for the first time ever---I was given a whole class instead of acting as a specialist providing 30-minute lessons to a bunch of classes.
This made me more than a little nervous.
My assignment was to provide a “social language” program for ten boys entering third and fourth grade, only three of whom were from my own school. Some were on the autism spectrum. Others were not; these guys had difficulty negotiating social relationships and/or regulating their emotions. In other words, it was a very mixed bag of kids.
I had already been using a superhero theme with some of my groups during the school year, and the kids loved it. Since it was so popular (and since I already had a lot of themed materials), I decided to stick with it.
For summer school I thought I’d change things up to make lessons more relevant to this diverse group, more interesting for me, and more fun for all of us. I decided I would combine my superhero materials with concepts from Leah Kuyper’s Zones of Regulation and Michelle Garcia Winner’s Superflex Social Thinking program, and wrap the whole thing up into a big fat Social Superhero Training Academy.
Working with this framework to guide me made designing a curriculum plan much easier than you would think, even for such a varied set of needs. I chose the five Superflex “Unthinkables” I thought would be most problematic for my trainees, and invented a 6th (Magnifying Man) who would correspond with the Zones concept of the Size of the Problem. Then I went to Pinterest and got to work.
I’ll write more separately about the specific activities I found to buy, borrow, or use for inspiration. I did end up having to create quite a bit from scratch, but I had SO MUCH fun doing it, it didn’t really feel like work.
I thought I’d share a few photos here though, so you can get an idea of what our four week academy was like. Hint: the boys were all very sad on the last day, and I wasn’t too happy to say goodbye either.
The end result: happy kids who learned a lot and who talked about what they learned at home, happy parents who were thrilled that their kids were dying to come for their “training” every day, and a very happy counselor who got paid to wear a mask while preparing her trainees for future challenges from the Unthinkables.
Our Summer Social Superheroes Training Academy was a soaring success! Now comment below with your suggestions on what I can do NEXT summer!
I've dedicated a whole page to giving you some ideas, activities, and printables. It's still a work-in-progress, so keep checking back for updates. Enjoy!
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