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How was your summer? Fostering critical conversations with students

Melissa-Sue John

At the beginning of every school year, I remember our teachers asking us  How was your summer? as either an icebreaker or out of genuine interest. You can find tons of worksheets on How was your summer writing prompts or icebreakers online.

 I recall that some students would ravish how they went on the most exciting vacations filled with beach trips, water sports, horseback riding, visiting grandparents and extended family, etc. while others either stayed home all summer or went to the neighborhood summer camp. In 2020 the entire year made it impossible for anyone to truly enjoy the summer. Travel was limited, malls were closed, sports were canceled, and people were afraid to leave their homes. But parents tried their best and camps went virtual. 

I was recently summoned to review this book entitled How was your summer? by the author who also happens to be a licensed professional counselor, Jenny Delacruz. How was your summer? is a teaching and learning guide that aims to reduce the anxiety of students and assist teachers and parents in instilling confidence in students during these uncertain times. Specifically, it deals with issues related to two very real and disturbing pandemics- COVID19 and racial inequality in the U.S. 

Jenny delacruz how was your summer

There are 30 activities in the book that can be completed in the classroom whether it is face to face or virtual. They address an array of topics from socioemotional health to social support. These activities were designed to give students a platform to learn history, reflect on the present, communicate about their feelings (fears, anger, despair), develop holistic identity, and become anti-racist. The book also includes tips, Dos and Donts, a glossary, helpful resources, and references. I found this book very relatable as a trained social psychologist and educator. I found it highly valuable, well-written and thoroughly researched. I especially appreciate the mission to teach antiracism as opposed to being nonracist, and why Black Lives Matter is an important concept and All lives matter is a dismissive construct. This book is ideal for grades 4 to 12. 

Jenny Delacrus is a first-generation Haitian American raised in New York City.


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