Virtual programming ideas for summer programming

Ah, summer—the season when school librarians take a well-earned break, but our enthusiasm for education and capturing young people’s attention never wavers. Librarians cannot always allow learners access to the school library during the summer. Personally, I use the summer to recharge, spend time with my daughters, and pursue professional growth to get ready for the upcoming academic year. Since there is not much time left after all of these events to open the school library, I frequently publish virtual programming ideas to my library LMS to inspire my learners to keep enjoying libraries all summer long. This will maintain the library’s enchantment throughout the summer. These are a handful of my personal top suggestions for summer virtual programming. These things are simple to assemble in a single day or prior to going on summer vacation. Whatever the situation, these activities will continue to keep learners interested as they take a well-earned break.

Virtual Author Discussions: 

As a librarian, YouTube is my best buddy. Nothing is not available on YouTube. I will look for authors who have works in the library, both in print and as audiobooks or eBooks, for virtual author conversations. I will search YouTube for videos of these authors describing their novels, their lives, why they write, and so on. I will then link these author discussions to a message board where I will have different video-related prompts for learners to interact with one another. I will also tell them where to find these books in our library or the public library.

Virtual Storytelling:

During Hurricane Harvey, as our schools here in Houston were shut down, I began recording myself reading snippets from short stories. This was to entertain my learners during the difficult time. I continued short story reading during COVID and over the years, my recordings have improved thanks to Adobe Spark, WeVideo, and Canva. Every year before summer, I record myself reading 5-10 different short stories and upload them to my LMS. I link these readings to a message board where my learners answer different prompts to interact with one another. 

Creative Writing Workshops: 

Similar to the virtual author discussion, YouTube is my closest friend when it comes to creative writing workshops. I look for videos of authors discussing their work or the writing process for creative writing classes and submit them to my LMS. The readings are linked to a discussion board where my learners respond to various questions. I encourage learners to upload writing samples or record themselves reading their assignments for class discussion. I have seen that these courses give pupils the confidence to develop their own literary personas.

Library Orientation: 

When the school library was closed during COVID, I still wanted to reach my learners, so I recorded myself giving a tour of the library and prepared an online library orientation. This tendency has remained even after I resumed in-person library orientation, primarily for teachers who are unable to attend library orientation for whatever reason. During the summer, I share these videos with incoming freshmen or any new learners to give them a taste of what to expect from their new library. 

Online Games and Puzzles: 

There are innumerable online games and puzzles available, so I frequently look for unique games or puzzles to fit a theme and provide learners with a range of activities to do over the summer.


Author: Jessica Fitzpatrick

Jessica Fitzpatrick is a high school librarian in Houston and is in her tenth year of education. She holds a Bachelor of Science in education from the University of Houston and a Master of Library and Information Science from the University of North Texas. She is a 2022 Library Journal Mover & Shaker, 2022 TLA MVP, an AASL Inspire Special Event Grant recipient, 2022 YALSA’s MAE Award for Best Literature Program for Teens, the 2022 TLA Branding Award Winner for Reading Program, the 2020 TLA Branding Award Winner for Community Engagement, YALS article contributor, and on the TAYSHAS Reading Committee. She enjoys running, reading, and spending time with her two daughters and husband. You can follow her on Instagram at @librarian_fitz and on Twitter at @librarianfitz .

Categories: Literacy

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