How to stop the summer slide with Connected Class founder Christel Reaves

Ross Romano: [00:00:00] Welcome everybody to this episode of the EdTech Startup Showcase on the Bee Podcast Network. Thanks for being with us for another exciting episode here. I'm Ross Romano, I'm co founder of the BEPodcast Network, and I host the shows the authority and sideline sessions on the network.

And I'm hosting a handful of episodes here of this series in which we are reconnecting with our ed tech founders, hearing about some of the latest work they're engaged in, some of the key topics that really tie together all of our work in education, all of the work as founders, as ed tech innovators, as people who are just dedicated to.

helping to support excellence in schools, excellence in teaching and learning. So my guest today is Christel Reaves, founder and CEO of Connected Class. [00:01:00] Christel.

Christel Reaves: Hi, Ross. Thanks for having me on today. Well,

Ross Romano: one that is certainly close to your heart, close to your work. It's summer learning, the summer slide, and then kind of, preventing, countering, and, and you know, providing support against the summer learning loss, right? Let's contextualize this. A lot of our listeners are probably familiar, but we might have some who are maybe parents whose kids are newer to schooling, right?

Or even some educators who haven't worked a lot in this area. How, how significant is the summer slide typically?

Christel Reaves: that's a great question, Ross. It's actually pretty significant. So research shows that the average student loses 2. 6 months of math skills during the summer and two months of reading skills are, are the average loss during the summer as well. So what does that mean? Six months, the time spent in the, I'm sorry.

Yeah. [00:02:00] Six weeks is the time spent in the fall where they're relearning old material to make up for the summer slide. And by the end of sixth grade, students who have experienced the summer slide over years, are on average two years behind their peers too, so it is a big deal and what makes it hard is that summer's for fun, right?

Slides are for sliding down, having a good time, playing with your families. So we've come up with a creative way for families to avoid the academic slide while they're still having fun with their children.

Ross Romano: Yeah. Yeah. If you want a summer slide to be a water slide, right?

Christel Reaves: you

Ross Romano: Are there certain skills or subject areas that are most critical to, you know, either the areas where, where the law says. Tends to be most significant or just the ones that are most critical to be fortifying during those summer months.

Christel Reaves: absolutely. And really where we see it the most is with math, which makes sense because [00:03:00] across the nation, it tends to be the lowest academic performance area compared to reading. And math skills, they built, right? So, speaking of math, Especially in those early years, they're working on number sense with addition and subtraction, multiplication and division, but as students get older, you know, they're learning their fractions and their decimals and so forth.

So if they've lost their fluency, their fact fluency, when they get to higher level mathematics, Solving equations, they're getting tripped up because it's a multi step process because they're still having to figure out a basic addition problem, multiplication problem, and so forth. (ad here)

Ross Romano: yeah, yeah. And as you referenced, right, the amount of time spent typically at the beginning of the year, relearning material, I mean, either there's the opportunity cost and or the, the [00:04:00] actual cost is going to happen in, in one of a couple of ways, either the class. as a whole keeps moving ahead, right, and a number of students are falling behind.

And, or, the, there's a lot of time spent reteaching material that a lot of kids are already, already know and are already, you know, remember and are proficient with, and that's all time lost that they're also not learning new material because It's hard for the teacher to tell, okay, who, who needs this reinforcement, right?

And, and, and I'm just used to, okay, I know a certain percentage of students are coming into the next year where they have sort of fallen behind, or there's certain things that they've forgotten, right? And either way, as a whole [00:05:00] as you mentioned, right, over, over the course of those elementary and middle school years.

Christel Reaves: It adds

Ross Romano: there's a, there's a couple of years of, of total loss that can happen and that can show up in all, in all of those areas, right? And then it, so it affects It ends up affecting every student when we don't have a good plan in place. Whether it's those who, who aren't having a lot of access to good learning resources over the summer, but even those who are that, you know, they could be getting further and further ahead, but they might not because.

There's only so much the teacher can do each

Christel Reaves: right. That's right. You know, Ross, we discovered in the last few years, if we do a monthly fact fluency challenge, so at Connected Class, we also have a year long program and every month we offer all of our educators to join in and they'll select which facts they want to discuss. They want to focus on whether it's addition, [00:06:00] subtraction, multiplication, or division.

They can send it out to the whole class or individual students, but we've seen amazing gains. So just in four weeks time, the teacher will give a pretest. They play one of our learning link games, which is hands on the game, a strategy or activity using something like dominoes, dice, cards, things that you can find in your junk drawer at home.

They will play with the class on one day, and then they And they send the learning link video home to the parents, and they ask the parents instead of doing paper, pencil, homework with your child, just play games with them. Play 10 minutes, 3 times a week. And so they get a total of 4 different videos. Do you know we've seen 37 percent learning games? Average 37 percent learning gains in just four weeks. So it really helps, especially for those kids who have experienced the summer slide. The teacher can participate in those monthly challenges each month and can select certain students to kind of give them that extra support and that extra practice.

[00:07:00] If they're not able to do it today we doing during the summer which, which helps out, because, you know, we've also seen as a nation that there's a decline after the pandemic, so how are we going to, you know, supplement those learning experiences, and with the schools that I work with, we do a lot of data analysis and customized professional development on it, and what we've figured out is if, if we give teachers the time to do measurement, to do data, you know, data, probability, geometry, things like that.

But we can get parents to play games at home with basic facts. It's building their number sense and it's making up for time loss, too. So it's a creative way to catch up. Mm

Ross Romano: I guess the word I'll use is kind of principles are most important here. And what I mean is so you referenced math being a big area here, right? And that makes sense [00:08:00] because typically the type of mathematics skills that students are learning in school, especially as they move up in levels. They're not encountering a whole bunch of it just in a regular day to day, especially when they're outside of school, the way that they might, at least with reading, hopefully, and things like that.

But I am, to me, I would imagine that a lot of it is that it doesn't have to be every day, you know, but having a routine where it's at least, okay, each week, there's a certain amount of activity because you're keeping it fresh in your mind, you're bridging that time where you're, you know, you're not totally forget because over the course of three months or if I haven't thought about this at all you know, I've, okay, I am going to need a refresher and that might take a while because, [00:09:00] and If I can't remember how to do these things, I'm, I'm totally lost when I moved to the next level, right?

But kind of in that case, you know, I'm thinking like routine and, and what the frequency is, or just more that it's, it's about consistency versus,

Christel Reaves: over time. You got it. It's actually a little math formula. Consistent behavior over time. It makes a big difference. And what I've discovered through all the students that have participated in this challenge, that it really doesn't take that much. It really doesn't. It's like 10 minutes a few times a week.

That's it. You know, you could really help your child be successful by just a few minutes here and there.

Ross Romano: Yeah. So, us more about your resources, right? You know, so you have resources specifically for that. What what are they? Who are they for? How are they used?

Christel Reaves: Well, so I'm the type of person who loves to maximize time. So I'm [00:10:00] always asking myself, how can I? And blend things together. So, you know, for the families that take road trips during the summer, a lot of these games kids can play in the car. So we have games called Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Add, multiply, and subtract. And really, it's the same game as rock, paper, scissors, right? But what they do is they'll shoot out their fingers, and if they say rock, paper, scissors, add, like, let's say I throw out seven fingers and you throw out two fingers, the first person who yells, Nine gets a point, but Ross, if you yell nine at the same time that I yell nine, then we actually do rock, paper, scissors, shoot to break the tie.

So if you did a paper and I did a rock, that means you got the point because paper covers rock, right? So this is a great activity in the car. Do you know, I've had parents who are standing in line at Universal waiting for rides, playing rock, paper, scissors, multiply with [00:11:00] their children, texting me saying, Christmas is So much fun.

We're actually killing time while we're at the theme park and practicing our math. So, you know, families can do it at the grocery store, they can do it at theme parks, they can do it in the car. There's just, there's a lot of really simple, easy games to play with dominoes and dice and cars and, and kids don't even realize that.

They're playing. You know what I mean? Like, they're learning. They're just having fun playing. They realize they're playing, but they don't realize that they're learning.

Ross Romano: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and they, they're not thinking about it that way, but also I, I think that a lot of the aversion some kids may feel toward quote unquote learning is because of what they've experienced it as, as not really being engaging or them not really knowing why they're learning something.

You know, [00:12:00] it's those, you know, inauthentic environments. As you said, in this case, I mean, there is a lot of, I mean, there is a lot of, summer goes by quickly, but there's also a lot of time to pass a lot of

Christel Reaves: yeah, yeah, yeah.

Ross Romano: or pool days or whatever it is. And, and what better way to pass that time than something that is is enriching and and that's really what Kids want, it's what, I mean, it's what adults want too, but it's that it's somebody to pay attention to

Christel Reaves: Yeah, absolutely.

Ross Romano: To say,

Christel Reaves: yeah, they're paying attention to them. They're having fun. And you know, that's how our program is different than others. Like we don't do worksheets. So for our summer success program, kids all get a bag of manipulatives. And they have double nine dominoes, playing cards, fly swatters, cups.

Balls, timers, flashlights, really fun, just [00:13:00] manipulatives. And then there's numerous activities that parents get every weekend, literacy and math. And they can also just scan a QR code that's in the parent guide. It takes them to a webpage and it shows them. You know, what activities to do each week and they can check it off on a checklist and then submit it for a certificate at the end of the year or, you know, the end of the summer, and it just makes it a lot of fun because it isn't, you know, Oh, you have to sit there and do worksheets.

It's no, you actually get to play with family members and it doesn't necessarily have to be the parent because a lot of parents are very busy, you know, still working in the summer, but you could play with a neighbor or, you know, a cousin or a sister. Sibling and and just have that, you know, special time interacting with someone.

Ross Romano: yeah, what, what I guess is valuable for schools to understand about this, just either about what these resources are, how they can help students, how they can have a dialogue [00:14:00] with parents about, you know, The benefits and importance of summer learning, whatever it is, but what's valuable from that perspective.

Christel Reaves: I missed the laughable part. Can you say that once more?

Ross Romano: Yeah, I think part of it, even if these are, are things that are really happening at home between parent and child, that maybe there's a a dialogue to be had between the school and the parents about, okay, here's why this is important. Here's the difference it makes. Here's you know, between the end of this year and the beginning of next year, here's where we're trying to get to.

And this is essential to making sure your child is ready to get there. Because that might not be, it might not be obvious to, to parents, because a lot of times I think you may think of summer learning as being all about getting ahead versus. not falling behind, [00:15:00] right? And it can be both, but to say that like the status quo is falling behind.

The status quo is not, well, you are where you are and look, we don't want to put too much pressure on, you know, on it. And we do want summer to be fun and we don't want to, you know, everything doesn't have to always be about, are we pushing for the next level and all of that, but that there are at least.

You know, that some of this is important to just making sure that your child maintains all of the hard work that they've done over the previous

Christel Reaves: Absolutely. You know, I work with a lot of different schools, Ross, and those schools that provide family events before the summer. So we travel around, we do that for our schools. We go through the research, you know, when parents are involved, your children are you know, more confident, they're more motivated.

Tend to be more academically successful you know, better behavior. So we go through that in those live events as well as the [00:16:00] statistics with the summer slide. But mostly we spend time just playing games with them so they can see how easy and fun it is. 'cause this morning I was working with a group of educators, virtually in Vermont, and I played some games with them.

They're like. Oh, wow, I really didn't think I was going to have that much fun. And I was like, I know you're grownups, too. You know, imagine when you do this with kids. Like, they have a blast. And so, you know, it's just taking that little extra time, that little extra effort when schools will communicate that to their families.

You know, if they have a live event or if they at least put it in their newsletter or, you know, send one of our Learning Link videos home through email, you know, the parents can see firsthand. How simple and easy it is to engage with their child. (ad here) And do you is there ways for, well, I mean, I guess maybe the way to ask the question is who, how can people get access to the resources? Can [00:17:00] parents, can parents buy them directly? Can schools provide them to families? Yeah,

So for the Learning Summer Success Program, parents can purchase directly by going to connecttoclass. com. School systems can also purchase for their students. So actually, 1 percent of Title I dollars have to be spent on parent family engagement, and this resource meets that requirement.

So it provides the materials as well as the video instruction. And our videos are animated, and the way that we do it is we actually teach the concept. within that short video so that the parent feels confident with it, right? So most of the time, parents, they don't have any issues really with the reading piece, but math, I mean, how many people do you hear say, Oh, my child's not good at math because I'm not good at math and it's okay, right?

So here in these videos, we teach them that math concept because a lot of us. [00:18:00] Maybe we don't add unlike denominators anymore as grown ups. So when your child needs to practice that skill, how do you do that again? So this video does a quick demo and it shows families, you know, this, you can participate with your child, even if you haven't done those math, that math in years.

And it, and it helps them to feel confident and engage more with their child.

Ross Romano: I mean, that's very helpful because even, you know, even, even parents who feel confident in the, their, their knowledge of the subject matter, these things that we learned at a young age, you don't remember how, how you learned it, or it might be taught differently now than it is then. And it's. It's kind of one of those things, okay, as far as I've always known this as far back as I can remember, and I know I learned it at some point, but how do I teach it?

I don't

Christel Reaves: YES!

Ross Romano: and and the understanding that you

Christel Reaves: Yeah,[00:19:00]

Ross Romano: You know, you have the right resources

Christel Reaves: yeah, and as a parent, you don't want to show your child that you don't know, right. Some parents are like, Oh, what if my child realizes they know this math better than me because I haven't done it in a long time. So it's a good reminder too.

Ross Romano: Yeah. Yeah. Well, good. Eventually, hopefully, they do know it better, but not, not yet.

Christel Reaves: not yet. We actually have kindergarten through eighth grade. So, you know, you get into some algebra, some, you know, some people, they get a little scared when you put numbers and letters together.

Ross Romano: I guess to tie this all together, what, what, what should be the status quo? of summer learning be as, as opposed to maybe what it typically is. But if we look at maybe it's, you know, that two, two and a half months, whatever the, the usual time period is kind of what, what [00:20:00] should a typical schedule be or whether it's

Christel Reaves: Yeah, it

Ross Romano: each week or,

Christel Reaves: it could be. So simple. You know, honestly, research shows that reading with your child every night you know, 10 to 20 minutes, that's all it takes. And, and families, they'll find within our Summer Success Program that we do some daily reading activities where we give them creative ideas and how to read together each night.

Because sometimes it just gets boring and, and either the parent doesn't want to do it or the child doesn't want to do it. So that series is actually called Stop whining and just read with me already. So it will teach them how to use like Snapchat with filters to read together, you know, reading with a flashlight.

I mean, you can get a lot of motivation out of a dark room and a flashlight or popping up a tent. So we give them a lot of creative ideas. You know, if a parent could read with their child every single night for 10, 15 [00:21:00] minutes, that's fantastic. But you know what? If they could do it only three times that week.

That is awesome. It's better than nothing because it's building their vocabulary. You know, if someone's reading to them, it could be building their expression and their, you know, their fluency and so forth and comprehension. You know, Math Facts. Again, I was sharing with you three times a week, ten minutes.

37 percent learning gains in fact fluency. It doesn't take that much. It really doesn't. It's consistent behavior over time. It's like going out for that walk around the neighborhood to stay in shape. You know, it's play a couple math games, read a couple stories, and you're gonna be amazed at how, how ready your child is to start school in the fall.

Ross Romano: Yeah, well, I guess if parents remember nothing else, I heard the phrase stop whining in there. And if you have a solution, if you have a solution for that, and,

Christel Reaves: Stop whining.

Ross Romano: worth the money.

Christel Reaves: Exactly. We love it.[00:22:00]

Ross Romano: Excellent. Well, listeners, you can learn more about all of these at connectedclass. com. Yeah. And anything else, Crystal, any other instructions for people once they go to the website what they can find there, they can, they get a demo, anything like that?

Christel Reaves: you got it. So when you go to the homepage, you will see summer Success up at the top. Also on the homepage you can click for live demo, put in your information and we will reach out and we can do a Zoom call with you, answer any of your questions at any time. You can also send emails to and you know, we're here to help you get connected, stay connected, and learn for a brighter tomorrow.

Ross Romano: Excellent. Everybody, yeah, go ahead over to connecttoclass. com and check out these summer learning resources. Very easy to find, easy to see what it's all about, easy to access and makes all the difference, right, over these coming months. So please do check that out. Please also do subscribe to this series, the EdTech Startup Showcase, if you have not already, or head over [00:23:00] to bpodcast.

network. Or vpodcastnetwork. com to see about all of our 40 different shows, see what else is there for you and and, and find a new series today Crystal, thanks again for being

Christel Reaves: You are so welcome. Thank you, Ross.

Creators and Guests

Ross Romano | Coaching You From Vision to Decision
Ross Romano | Coaching You From Vision to Decision
Performance Coach for mid-career miracle-makers & execs ambitious in work and life | Co-founder & podcaster @BePodcastNet | CEO & edtech advisor @SeptemberStrat
Connected Class
Connected Class
Connected Class is a professional learning provider that unites educators, administrators, and families through innovative and practical learning tools.
How to stop the summer slide with Connected Class founder Christel Reaves