BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - The classrooms at Grimes Elementary School are anything but quiet this summer.
Burlington kindergarten through fifthgrade students are filling classrooms with laughter and learning during the sixweek summer school program, which began last month and continues through Aug. 10, The Hawk Eye (https://bit.ly/1H0z5t6 ) reported.
Unlike their parents’ and grandparents’ summer school, where students were required to attend due to bad grades or other issues, the district’s summer school program is voluntary, not mandatory.
Corse Elementary School fourthgrader Trenton Patton, 10, interviewed a classmate and shared what he learned.
“We made paper books, maintained a journal and then did a classmate interview,” Patton said. “I interviewed Jeremiah. He’s from New Orleans.”
Patton said he’s taking horseback riding lessons when he’s not at summer school.
Michael Carper, the technology integration coach for Aldo Leopold and Edward Stone middle schools, helped organize the summer school program.
Carper is in his 13th year with the summer school program, but this is his first year stepping out of the classroom to take a more administratortype role.
“We still have room, not every grade level has some space, but there’s still quite a bit there,” Carper said. “We are approaching 200 kids right now, and that’s the highest numbers we’ve had.”
Burlington High School students volunteer to assist the program in order to earn silver cord hours.
“These kids went right in, sat down and were eating breakfast with the kids this morning,” Carper said. “It’s what we love to see. Those kids getting dirty. It’s fun.”
The high school students help students with assignments or do some of the busy work for the teachers, such as making copies or grading papers.
“I had high schoolers show up this morning at 7:30 wanting to do some work for teachers,” Carper said. “And a couple want to be teachers, so this gets them that opportunity to try some things.”
Carper said an interventionist will work with specifically identified students and do some progress monitoring with them.
The interventionist works with students who may need to be pulled out for oneonone or smallgroup instruction.
“The ultimate goal is retention,” Carper said. “We don’t teach a ton of new concepts, we really just want to help them retain what they learned throughout the school year. So we focus primarily on reading and math but then, we are also pulling in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).”
Each week, Carper said, there’s a new activity going on and in certain situations, field trips correlate to what was taught in the classroom.
“We’re working on bringing in the DNR to do some work with the kids,” Carper said. “We’re going to go fishing and do some tree identification at the park. That’s a new activity at Crapo Park.”
Students visit the computer lab each week, and teachers are able to utilize the interactive smart boards to engage the students in their learning.
Iowa Public Television, scheduled with Farmers and Merchants Bank, will teach financial literacy each Tuesday, and music is offered every day.
“A lot of teachers are very well versed in that, so they are incorporating that into their lessons, as well,” Carper said.
This year, Carper said there were more applicants from teachers than any year previously.
“It was tough picking teachers because you had so many qualified applicants,” Carper said. “And we have a great group of associates that signed up. We are very blessed this year.”
The summer school program is funded through the 21st Century Grant. Those funds gives Carper some flexibility to plan events.
Carper credits North Hill Elementary School Principal Phil Noonan for showing him how to operate the program.
“This is the first year I’ve worked without Phil there, but he helped prep everything with me leading up to it,” Carper said.
“He just set that groundwork for what the summer school program should be like. I think the staff we have here, they are all energetic, fun and outgoing.” ”That’s a big one because we have kids come here with tears in their eyes with a little separation anxiety,” Carper continued. “It’s great to see teachers get down on their knee and connect with that kid.”
Tim Cradic, assistant principal at Aldo Leopold Middle School, said without that relationship between student and teacher, it’s hard to get children to buy in.
“They understand that the important thing is building that relationship with the kids just like the regular year,” Cradic said. “Can’t learn a whole lot until we have the relationship.”
Carper said a lot of middle school teachers are realizing if they work this program, a relationship already is established.
“So when they come to the middle school and that kids is coming up, they see four or five faces, and they’ve got that kid,” Carper said.
Information from: The Hawk Eye, https://www.thehawkeye.com
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