The Morning Star is operating at full capacity. Amy Wollerton’s new math curriculum has energized both the students and parents. The students seem to eagerly taken on the challenge of learning Amy’s math curriculum. The parents are supportive and see the value of bring their child to the Morning Star program. Amy’s new curriculum has also given us an opportunity to organize the program. We have 8 tables corresponding to the different grade levels. Each table has 6 to 7 students and 2 to 3 mentors. The strategy is to retain the table composition of students to mentors so that they can establish a fellowship between them. Student’s attendances is still sporadically. If we get more mentors, we will reduce the number of students per tables.
HACAN institutionalizes a sense of authority in the Morning Star program by issuing official HACAN t-shirts to the mentors. The mentoring t-shirts will assist the students to distinguish their mentors from the crowd not only on Saturday mornings, but when the kids go on field trips.
For the summer of 2017, Morning Star is expanding its purview by consolidating HACAN’s three separate programs into aspects of one integrated whole that will serve the needs of all three constituencies combined.
HACAN will meet the needs of all its members through focusing its mission to address the academic (reading and math) needs of students enrolled in Morning Star. Each elementary or middle school student who enrolls in Morning Star Summer Program in 2017 will be asked to be accompanied by a parent or older sibling who will participate with him/her. Trained Star Club members will guide and assist students to whom they are assigned, along with the accompanying parent/older sibling who attends with the child to support the his/her learning. As a result, Morning Star members’ academics are boosted, Star members teaching and mentoring skills are enhanced, and HACAN parents’ ability to participate in their children’s learning is deepened.
Why is HACAN adding this academic summer program?
There are several important reasons why HACAN is adopting this model for its summer program. First, summer slide can be a serious impediment to academic growth for elementary and middle school students who are not challenged academically in the summer. There is much research on this phenomenon. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ACSD) cites studies showing that low-income students suffer most from summer slide because they do not have access to extra-curricular camps and activities (both academic and non-academic) in which more wealthy students participate. Students enrolled in Morning Star will be assessed and assigned math and reading work that will cater to their individual needs. Each will be assigned a Star Club student to monitor his/her progress throughout the course of the summer.
Second, summer is an excellent time for Star Club students to exercise their leadership skills without the conflicting demands of schoolwork. Through specific modeling and training, Star members will experience the satisfaction of helping the younger members of their community not only grow academically, but also develop confidence as they acquire new math and reading skills. By the end of the summer, Star members will have learned much about what it means to be a model for others who benefit immeasurably from their efforts. This is precisely the kind of experience they need to become civic leaders in their community, which, in turn, will expand further as they extent their influence to the broader society as mature young adults.
Third, children whose parents are active participants in their learning do better in school. Parents with limited English/reading skills have a harder time providing the kind of support that can improve their children’s performance in school. The model of pairing a parent and child with a trained assistant from Star who can explain to parents the strategies and techniques of acquiring fundamental reading and math skills is one that can enrich the lives of both the parent and child.
Other Benefits—Community-Based Learning
Currently, universities and colleges across the nation are dedicating much time and many resources to the research of Community-Based Learning. Involving members of the community in various roles to teach and learn is a common sense and practical way to unite people at the most grassroots level of support, engagement, and advocacy. Research is ongoing and the word is still out on which kinds of CBL programs are most effective, but there is no question that support, engagement, and advocacy create lasting bonds of commitment that cannot help but enhance social well-being of all those involved in such an endeavor. Students and families who feel secure and confident in their community are best equipped to face academic and social challenges in school. HACAN’s summer program will address the social needs, as well as academic needs, of its member families.
Volunteers—The principle recruitment platform for the staffing of volunteers will be HACAN’s Star Program for high school students at JEB Stuart High School. However, anyone who is interested in training and helping elementary-aged students of Morning Star is welcome to join the tutor/mentor team so long as they can commit to working with at least one child twice a week (one of those times being Saturday morning) for the duration of the summer. We will recruit Star, guidance counselors, parent liaisons and other outreach methods that maximize our recruiting potential.
Students and Parents—Any members of Morning Star can attend our academic summer program. The parent liaison at both Upper and Lower Bailey’s will provide outreach to students who have need or desire to attend. Teachers at both campuses will be notified that they can send recruitment letters home in their classroom and school newletters to those who would like to join Morning Star beginning this summer. Students must begin attending Morning Star by the second week in July in order to be included as an official participant in the academic program.
During the school year students spend their days in school and their afternoons doing homework for school. Making the best grades possible is important for all students. There are any number of reasons why some students may struggle with class work and homework. However, there is one element of math mastery that all students, no matter their grade level or level or ability, can readily improve—especially in the summer—that will boost their confidence level and skills no matter what math subject, skill or practical application they encounter in school or in the world. Math fluency is an essential and easily monitored aspect of overall math mastery. Ten minutes of targeted daily practice over the course of a summer provide students with an opportunity to develop number patterns and number sense, which leads to automaticity, which makes students more secure in their ability to manipulate numbers accurately and confidently. Once students have achieved this level of number manipulation, they will begin the next school year with confidence and they will be ever more ready to focus on the concepts that will be taught—free from the anxiety that they cannot quickly perform the basic operations (basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division for lower elementary; and the aforementioned operations with fractions and integers for older elementary and middle school students).
In HACAN this summer, students will be assessed and provided with worksheets that cater to their individual needs. Every Saturday, students will do their worksheets for that day with their parents at their sides, as well as a trained Star volunteer who will be helping them progress and answering any questions the students or their parents have.
There are programs both on the computer or that can be downloaded from the Internet that address students’ fluency needs, but they cannot replace a systematic approach that is monitored closely by a supervisor, volunteer tutor/mentors and parents. HACAN will accommodate the individual need of its Morning Star students through supervision and monitoring and by using Engage New York’s fluency Sprints. Engage New York is a full curriculum, but embedded within it are fluency worksheets that are strategic in that the worksheets are timed and incremental in progression to ensure mastery of each operation.
There will be two prongs to the reading program. As is standard, “K-2nd is the learning to read phase and 3rd-5th is the reading to learn phase,” the summer reading program will take this approach.
Students who are reading at or below F&P level I (EOY 1st grade) will be using the Vowels First Method intensively to develop phonics skills and deepen linguistic understanding of the phonemes and the basic spelling patterns of the English language. Each of these students will be assigned a volunteer Star member who will tutor him/her. An adult or older sibling who will also be learning the techniques and skills needed for mastery of the English reading code will accompany each child at least once a week. In this way, the responsibility for the child’s progress is shared with the parents, community, the mentor, and the supervisor. Early readers will commit to working twice a week with their tutor. On one of those days—either to Morning Star Saturday or another set day of the week—the parent will accompany the child to learn the expectations for the child and how to help at home, as well as to learn the basic phonics rules of English for him/herself if he/she is learning English.
Those students who are reading between F&P Level I and Level M will be assessed as to their understanding of word patterns using Words Their Way Spelling Assessment. Their phonics needs will be addressed on an as-needed basis. Students of these levels will be tasked to read and write about non-fiction topics (about an animal unless they prefer another topic) each time they come. Their unit will culminate with a research report using three or more books on this topic that includes all the features of a non-fiction book.
Students reading at N Level and above will be working in book clubs on a book based on their reading levels.
Below are potential Book Club books for differentiated reading levels:
F&P U and above—Phineas Gage
F&P R through T—Blood in the River
F&P N through Q—Max: Best Friend, Hero
Pre-entry assessments for math and reading will begin on June 24th and end on July 8th. Post-summer assessment scores for anyone registering after July 8th cannot be included in analysis of the summer program’s final results. (They can, however, be utilized for other purposes such as observations that can help improve the program in the future.)
Because the focus of the math program is fluency, the assessment will reflect this by including the four basic operations of arithmetic with whole numbers for the younger and weaker math students, and the four basic operations with whole numbers, fractions and integers for the older, stronger ones. The way strength in math will be determined will be to give the lower level assessment first to all students. Students who do well on the first assessment will be given the second one. Students will be timed. They will not be given a fixed amount of time, but will write the time they start and the time they finish so that they can complete the whole test to their best abilities.
Reading levels will be determined in two ways. Students must bring their report cards with them. Their EOY DRA scores will be converted to F&P reading levels. Students will also read aloud, retell and answer comprehension questions to gather more detailed information about their comprehension abilities.
Training for Math
Training for math will be ongoing. Because the program is designed for fluency, tutor trainees will be looking for very discreet, incremental skills for each individual math exercise the students are asked to complete. Students, with their parents either participating or watching, will use a stopwatch to monitor progress. They will be asked to complete each worksheet within an acceptable range of time before they can move on to the next worksheet. Each student will be provided homework for every day of the summer but because the worksheets are designed to be completed quickly, the work should take only about five minutes each day. Parents will grade the worksheets when the students are home to both make sure the work is accurate and that it is finished. Parents will be required to actively participate through close monitoring of the worksheet completion.
Training for Reading (Early Readers)
Training and supervision of volunteers for the Vowels First Method will be ongoing but the most important elements for successful implementation can be taught in several hours of training. The initial, essential concepts will first be taught to groups of trainees without student pairings. Then trainees will observe students using the Method. Next, they will teach while being observed. Ongoing training will occur as I provide feedback to any questions tutors might have and any in-depth constructive criticisms I can provide as I continue to monitor.
Time is of the essence to get tutors trained to assist Summer Program students. Initial training can occur on the afternoon of June 24th and anytime on June 25th and can be done in 1½-hour increments two times per day. Once this training is finished, on the week of July first, tutors can sign up for observations. A student will then be assigned to the tutor and their one-on-one sessions at the library can begin. The tutors will be expected to work with their tutees twice a week—once on Saturday mornings and one other time during the week based on a mutual arrangement.
Training for Reading (Intermediate Readers)
There will be one tutor for every 6 students at the intermediate level of reading. These tutors will be guiding the reading and writing of students who will be moving through the steps of a research project. They will meet only once a week on Morning Star mornings.
These tutors will be briefed supervised by me and be tasked with making sure that their students are following procedures and assignments for each week until their final product is presented.
Training for Reading (Advanced Readers)
Book Clubs will be the approach taken for summer reading for advanced readers. They will be provided with worksheets and assignments that correspond to their reading. Each tutor will guide 2 reading groups simultaneously at Morning Star.