August 9, 2016

Literacy Camp Lessons

Members of the JE Community email list have received updates about the Summer Literacy Camp. Six elementary students from different local districts gathered to build literacy skill. During sessions, participants engaged in hands-on activities, discussions, and games. Topics included written self-expression, cause-and-effect relationships, and sequencing events. Everything was planned: lessons were meticulously detailed, activities were aligned with standards. Then, parents and students arrived.

As the Summer Literacy Camp unfolded, we found a groove. Students developed an understanding of behavior expectations. The volunteers and I learned to work together in a new capacity toward development of more independent learners. Everyone learned to support one another in ways that facilitated learning while promoting curiosity and creativity. Three lessons were reinforced during this experience.


Lesson 1 - Don't go it alone.
Involve parents and family members in the learning process. In addition to sharing preparatory activities via email before each camp date, a peer tutor was invited to improve student-teacher ratios. Camps are designed to be inclusive; that is, each participant is involved in each learning activity. Having support, whether in the form of peer tutors or other educators, enhances engagement and amps up motivation.

Lesson 2 - Embrace curricular adjustments.
View the lesson plan as an instructional guide, not a law. Remaining flexible is imperative to leverage spontaneous teachable moments. This is particularly challenging when time is limited, which is almost always the case. Though ideal, transitioning from one topic to the next as outlined in a day's lesson plan may not be possible. During Literacy Camp, scaffolds were provided while students completed advanced activities. The objective was to engage all students, to improve individual performance through preparation.

Lesson 3 - Take time to reflect and learn.
Educators and parents adopt varying reflection exercises. Some blog about their experiences. Others prefer to curate portfolios and visuals. Whatever your approach, moments of reflection are invaluable. These moments provide opportunity to identify areas in need of improvement as well as successes worth celebrating.



In true fashion, reflection on the Summer Literacy Camp resulted in a number of new strategies for supporting parents and students. Feedback from parents prompted development of Multiplication Circles, the first event under the Jackson Education Support Circles umbrella. Parents of students enrolled in 3rd through 5th grade are encouraged to register here.

Jackson Education Support Circles are designed to improve parents' ability to help learners complete homework and assignments. Share skills you'd like to revive via email.