The tent and the blanket under a small umbrella in the library proved to be popular reading spots with summer school students at Lawson Elementary School.
“Students have reading buddies, older students and younger students from two classrooms who meet for 25 minutes twice a week to read books together,” said Colleen Rice, Lawson Elementary summer school coordinator. “Every half-hour, a new group of students joins me and the two summer school teacher assistants in a specially decorated location - if their teacher feels the students have earned this reward.”
During a recent session, first, fourth and fifth grade students met in the library, found partners, chose books, then picked places to sit and read. Due to their popularity, students rotated from the tent and the umbrella to make sure everyone had opportunities to read there.
“It gives the older students fluency practice in reading, while the younger students build friendships,” said Rice. Lawson has students from Lusher and McCurdy elementary schools, which are both under construction this summer.
Many students chose “We Both Read” books, which feature two versions of the same story. On each left-hand page is a detailed story designed for older students and adults while the right-hand pages have a simplified version of the story for younger readers. Some of the available titles include, “Baseball Fever” and “The Big Tan Van” by Sindy McKay and “Fox’s Best Trick Ever” by Dev Ross.
Rice said the other part of the activity is designed as end-of-week reward/behavior incentives that promote following teacher’s directions, finishing school work and good attendance during summer school.
“The students meet again during Fun Fridays, a 25-minute activity, to share writing pieces or read books along with enjoying tasty treats,” said Rice. She added that each week featured a different theme. Teachers integrate the themes into math lessons, creative writing, read-aloud books and student books, said Rice.
“Summer at the Beach was Week 1 - students were seen counting seashells, subtracting with goldfish crackers, writing ocean and beach stories, and so on,” she explained. “The Fun Friday reward that week was a luau in the courtyard as students shared shark, hermit crab and other ‘beach’ stories. Hawaiian music played as students ended reward time with frozen treats. While students could wear beach shirts, a few grass skirts also showed up.”
Rice said the second week featured a zoo theme. Students in some classrooms wrote animal stories while other students researched facts about specific zoo animals. The Fun Friday rewards were zoo animal reading stations and animal cracker snacks. Students could also bring a favorite stuffed animal to school that day.
During the third week, Rice said the students enjoyed summer camping when they wrote fictional campfire or personal narrative camping stories. The Fun Friday activity included sharing these campfire stories, making s’mores and bringing flashlights to read with in the classrooms.
For the final week of summer school, the topic is St. Louis. Students will write stories about how they celebrate summer. The activity will include wearing St. Louis Cardinal baseball attire, sharing summer writing pieces and popcorn treats.