MS Summer Success Tips

Dear Middle School Families, 

The Middle School would like to provide you  and your family with a few tips and resources to help your child stay connected academically over the summer. We hope you enjoy the summer holiday and find these tools helpful. 

Enjoy the holiday, and happy learning!

Middle School Faculty and Staff


Summer Success Tips


We would like to see students continuing to grow as readers and foster the habit of reading for pleasure. We ask that middle school students at ISP read at least one book over the summer.  We will be using separate Readers and Writers notebooks as part of the workshop structure. Students should practice the skill of writing by writing down their wonderings as they read. Students may download books using our online platform, Sora. If your child needs support finding a book, s/he can check in with their English teacher or Ms. Barlow in the library. These resources below can also help you and your child find a good fit book.

Additionally, students are encouraged to journal in their writer’s notebooks. This does not have to be an ongoing list of daily activities, but more like the highlight of your day, a thought, feeling, memory, or emotion. It is all about the quality of the entry and being consistent. Journaling will also get students into living a writer’s life. 

Here are some great tips for fostering a love of reading from a trusted source. This applies to parents of young kids, but also of our middle grades.

Common Sense Media’s Blog Post: How to Raise a Reader

Here are some great books for students starting 6th and 7th grade: We will be reading Brown Girl Dreaming in 7th grade English class, so please choose another book.

Additionally, you can find other great titles in Sora for each grade level.


Grade 6: Firewall by Sean Rodman, Plank’s Law by Lesley Choyce, The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen, Flunked by Jen Calonita, The Mighty Odds by Amy Ignatow, The Midnight War of Mateo Martinez by Robin Yardi, and Darling, Mercy Dog of World War I by Alison Hart.

 Grade 7 and 8: The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, I am not your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sánchez, Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds, One of Us is Lying by Next Karen M. McManus 

Non fiction

What a Waste by Jess French, Earth Heroes by Lily Dyu, Minerals by Chris Bowman, and Treaties, Trenches, Mud, and Blood by Nathan Hale.

Here are some interesting, powerful books for teens (8th and 9th grades) Make sure to review the summary of the book with your child and make sure you are both comfortable with the content. We will be reading American Born Chinese and Speak in High School English, so please choose different books. 

If you can't find anything of interest or that you haven't read already on the shorted lists above, here are more choices targeted to middle school readers, collected by GoodReads! There are long lists here, but the categories can be helpful to guide readers to their interests.


The best way to keep learning science is to keep wondering! Encourage your child to look at the world around them and ask questions about what they observe. There are lots of websites and apps that reinforce science learning - find something that interests you and your child. Below are some suggestions of sites and apps that are free of charge.


Beaker - look at chemical reactions with your phone as a beaker - live streams of cameras around the world. My favorites: Africam to look at elephants 

Atom visualizer - what do the different elements look like on an atomic level? Augmented reality app

Google Science Journal - science lab in your pocket. Turns your phone into a laboratory to collect a wide range of data



Take Virtual Field Trips!

We are living through the textbook chapter that future history students will study. Middle School students are old enough to read and listen to the news with you, and discuss what is happening in the world around them. Below are some questions you might ask about the news:

How does this connect to what you already know about that region?

What other events in history are similar to this? What patterns do you notice?

How is the government responding to the situation?

Whose perspectives are we getting? Who is left out? Why might that be?

What is the data (charts, graphs, etc) telling us about this topic?

Questions about fairness, justice, or ethics are also a great way to get Middle School students fired up!


One of the best ways you can help your child reinforce his or her math skills is through playing games.  The following two websites describe many games you can play to reinforce number sense, or the ability of children and adults to manipulate numbers and build operational skills.  All you need are a deck of cards and a pencil!


It is important that you demonstrate with your child that math can be fun and useful.  Your attitude toward math can actually determine whether or not your child will succeed!  Here are some excellent tips from Stanford Math Education Professor Jo Boaler:


In this site you will find listening activities classified by topic or level and includes vocabulary and video quizzes, listening and speaking options all with immediate feedback.

Additionally, Duolingo can be downloaded onto mobile devices and provide fun, interactive mini-lessons in multiple languages.

For mother tongue Spanish classes, we would like students to continue developing their reading and writing strategies, so we recommend reading every day. You can choose a book from home, use kindle or Sora. The most important is that you select a book that you like, make sure to finish it, and discuss it with someone.


(These tips also work for those who are learning Spanish as part of our SAL curriculum)

Summer break is a great opportunity to practice and develop your language skills.  Here are some things you can do to keep practicing:

  1. Netflix, Prime, Hulu, find a show and watch in English with NO subtitles.
  2. Karaoke:  listen and read the lyrics to your favorite songs.
  3. Social Media: Whatsapp and IG write and post comments in English
  4. Got YouTube:  Find a favorite Youtuber in English
  5. Read: magazine articles, books, or news articles of your choice in English.

Most importantly, have fun while learning a new language!


  1. Take an online course or workshop, you can still learn something this summer! Choose one skill you want to gain - whether it’s coding, learning a language, creative writing, or anything else. Then, take a look online and see if you can find an online course or workshop that can start teaching you this skill. If you don’t know where to begin your search, some options you could try are:  Coursera, FutureLearn,  Class Central. 
  2. Form a  new habit! Students can write down the habit that they’d like to form, and the reward they would get once they stick to it for 21 days. Then, they can add a sticker for each day they successfully complete their new habit.
  3. Enroll in a virtual summer camp:  Free on-line summer camps, Free on-line summer camps 
  4. Use Youtube for free Yoga lessons and mindfulness activities and exercise. 
  5. Use some mindful apps to practice mindfulness.  Some you could use: Smiling Mind, Calm 
  6. Learn how to paint and draw mandalas  Free classes on creating and painting mandalas 
  7. Stay connected with friends and family.  Continue doing online meetings, games and netflix parties.