- Associated Press - Thursday, July 14, 2016

QUINCY, Ill. (AP) - A roll of the dice in the classroom shared by Tammy Stegeman and Julie Tuley helped reinforce sight word recognition in their students.

Whatever number came up on the dice, pairs of students quickly read aloud the words in the matching column on their word lists.

Work with white boards and erasable markers emphasized differences between “ee” and “ea” words like “see” and “sea, before students picked up a book about lions and tigers.

“Good readers think about what words might be coming up in the story,” Stegeman said.

While Stegeman focused on reading with one group, Tuley worked on writing with another during the Quincy School District’s Summer Academy for about 400 K-6 students at Adams School.

Tuley’s group made “T-charts” or two column-charts to record what they already knew and what they learned from another book about kangaroos.

“It’s just different ways for them to respond about what they’re reading,” Tuley said.

Reading books was just fine with Imani Kelley.

“I like reading about animals all the time,” she said. “I want to be a vet. I love animals.”

At the academy’s midpoint, “it’s going great,” coordinator Tracee Farmer said.

A new format this year has won rave reviews from students, parents and staff. Two 90-minute sessions per day, instead of one three-hour session, put two teachers per classroom with no more than 15 students.

Students have breakfast or brunch, then head to classrooms for a small group mini lesson followed by reading, writing and independent time before sharing what they have learned.

Jayden Wilson wanted to share that mama kangaroos when threatened by a dingo — or “ding dong” in his words — drop their babies in the tall grass, then run off hoping to draw away the predator’s attention.

Connor Beers wanted to share his long list of what he had learned at home, so he asked to take his notebook with him; the teachers instead suggested making a copy of the page.

The fast pace keeps kids’ attention.

“They can’t believe it’s school,” Stegeman said. “We pick topics of interest to them — animals, science — and we’re a little crazier. We’re not afraid what they think about us.”

The pair stuck labels all over themselves during a discussion of character traits, sported flag sunglasses on Flag Day and turned a book into a rap song instead of just reading it aloud.

“Kids wake up in the morning excited to come to school,” Tuley said.

Farmer wants to see students and teachers benefit from the Summer Academy.

“I hope the kids have a really positive experience and walk away being strong readers and writers, more confident in what they know,” Farmer said.

Tuley and Stegeman say they like the team-teaching approach to summer classes.

“I hope teachers walk away learning something to try next year in their classroom and having gained just a different collegial group. We are all 10 schools coming together, if you count Baldwin as three schools, and a lot of people may never cross paths in the regular school year,” Farmer said. “This expands people’s contacts. It’s not just a summer school experience. It can lead on into the school year to help their professional growth.”


Source: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://bit.ly/28ZGGi5


Information from: The Quincy Herald-Whig, https://www.whig.com

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