Summer Title 1 Camps Build on Last Year’s Success

Derry elementary students will have another chance to brush up on their academic skills – and have fun – as the Derry Cooperative School District prepares for its 2014 Title I camps.

Cara Kuehl, Title I coordinator, reported on last summer’s camps at the April 22 School Board meeting, and promised more for this year. She was accompanied by Grinnell Elementary School Principal Mary Hill. Grinnell was the host site for the 2013 camps.

Kuehl began with a brief explanation of Title I, a federally funded program to help at-risk learners. The funds go to “target schools” and Derry has three, she said – Grinnell, South Range and Derry Village elementary schools.

“We had not had a summer program since 2011,” Kuehl told the School Board and television audience.

She surveyed student interests and needs, collaborated with staff across the district, and created four distinct programs to meet summer student needs. She built the programs with $76,000 left over from the 2013 budget, she said.

The programs were Reading Camp, Math Camp, You’ve Got Mail and You’ve Got Math, Kuehl said. The Reading and Math camps were held at Grinnell.

For Math Camp, she took the survey of student interests and created a program including games, cooking, technology, puzzles, science and a “treasure hunt,” all building on the math skills students needed to brush up on. The teachers took the Common Core standards and broke out pieces that would work in the setting, she said. There were three all-day sessions, and it was so popular some students asked to come for a second or third session. “They even called their friends,” Kuehl said.

The Reading Camp was 12 days, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, with two sessions. Kindergarten and first-graders went in the morning, with second-through fifth-graders in the afternoon, Kuehl said. The program included a “guided reading block” and integrated study units based on the student interest surveys.

Children were also able to check out books from a summer Lending Library, she said.

“You’ve Got Mail” and “You’ve Got Math” involved students receiving packets of books or math activities through the postal service. Grinnell’s program involved 110 students, who were mailed 10 books and four or five letters over the summer. About 100 Derry Village and South Range students received five to 10 books and correspondence. For “You’ve Got Math,” selected students opened the mailbox to find “math kits” including manipulatives, books and letters from teachers.

Kuehl said participation was high in all programs, with 50 students in reading camp per day, 50 in math camp, 210 in “You’ve Got Mail” and 125 in “You’ve Got Math.”

“The students were reading more, and the correspondence with the school kept education in the forefront,” Kuehl said.

She showed a short video of the camps, with children engaged in Bowling Pin Addition, cup stacking (for “math pyramids”), preparing snacks (fractions and patterning) and checking out the books in the Lending Library. MaryAnn Connors-Krikorian, assistant superintendent, and other district personnel came in as guest readers.

The 300 students in the program read a cumulative 3,000 books, Kuehl said.

She is tweaking the program for this year, she said, and the program begins July 8 at Derry Village School. It will run Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, and an Open House to introduce the program will be held July 7.