The temperature outside definitely screams summer, but things are really cool inside classrooms at South Marshall STEM Academy during an innovative approach to Marshall ISD’s summer school for some students in MISD’s LEP (Limited English Proficiency) and Special Education programs.
Pre-K through Kindergarten LEP students, along with Special Education K-5 students, have been involved in the 2015-2016 MISD “iLearn: Wired for Success” program which has replaced the traditional “summer school” with a fun, fast-paced learning experience similar to a summer camp. The program is designed to move away from the traditional summer school format and allow students an opportunity to grow and learn without the drudgery of worksheets and test-intensive curriculum.
“This program is a bit different,” said Dr. Rebeca Cooper, Assistant Superintendent for Leadership and Learning. “There are no boring worksheets, no ‘drill-and-kill’ type instruction, no STAAR emphasis or passages. Instead the students play with Legos while learning math, or play with ‘BeeBots’ while learning to code, or paint one of Monet’s classics…it’s more like a summer camp than summer school. We are excited to be able to offer this to our students as part of our summer program.”
The program at South Marshall began on June 6, will run through July 8 Monday–Thursday. It is divided into a morning session and an afternoon session, with students coming for one but not both. Cooper said the focus is on learning authentic literacy, genre studies and real world math problems, but with an emphasis on developing thinking skills through a fun and engaging type of activity.
Ultimately, the program provides LEP students an opportunity for Bilingual Oral Language Development (BOLD). The Texas Administrative Code requires districts to provide a summer school program for English language learners who will be eligible for admission to kindergarten or first grade at the beginning of the next school year.
The BOLD schedule includes five different rotations: STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math); Numeracy; Literacy; Technology; and Art/Drama/Music.The students spend between 75 minutes and 90 minutes in each rotation, every day.
“This program puts the thinking and fun back into learning for these students,” said Dr. Cooper.
Summer programs with the “iLearn: Wired for Success” blueprint are also made available to MISD students in grades 5 and 8, and Marshall High School end-of-course (EOC) re-testers, although the program for fifth and eighth grade re-testers was cut short by a half-week or so due to the TEA’s ruling earlier this month that there would be no re-test due to issues with the state’s test provider this spring.
The high school EOC re-tester program at MHS began June 13 and will run through July 17.