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SUPERcamp gives edge to second-graders

Madison teachers used SUPERcamp as an innovative way to prepare students for third grade.

One second-grader at SUPERcamp explained the importance of counting money.

SUPERcamp was a two-week summer study in reading and math for 20 Madison students, instructional teacher leader Danielle Dixon said. She teaches kindergarten at Heritage Elementary School, where SUPERcamp was held on June 4-15.

Camp leaders invited students based on academic needs and teacher recommendations. The camp was free. Class size was limited to five students for one-on-one attention, Dixon said. Local businesses provided snacks.

Heritage second-grade teachers Adrian Wells and Wendy Pharo were among the SUPERcamp instructors. Wells said the campers arrived before 8 a.m. and worked on activities incorporating reading and math skills. “Then, we did reading rotations for half our time and math rotations for the second half.”

Compared to instruction during the school year, SUPERcamp “is lesson-based. Students worked in proximity with the teacher at all times,” Wells said.

“SUPERcamp was an excellent way for students to receive small-group instruction in a fun and challenging way,” Pharo said. They reviewed lessons learned in second grade and “implemented iPads and hands-on games to keep the students engaged and having fun.”

Often, children left Pharo’s group saying, “Aw … it’s time to leave already?” “The experience was positive and provided students with the extra bit of instruction they’ll need for summer break,” Pharo said.

Federal Programs Coordinator Jeana Ross said a study by National Assessment of Educational Progress supports the camp’s ideology: “Reading proficiently by the end of third grade can be a make-or-break benchmark … Until the end of third grade, most children are learning to read. Beginning in fourth grade, they’re reading to learn.”

Other SUPERcamp teachers were Heather Chaffin, kindergarten, Heritage; Kescha Lamb and Jill Bledsoe, Mill Creek Elementary School, second grade; and Natalie Smoak, Madison Elementary School, third grade.

Each of the six SUPERcamp teachers had a station, like comprehension and fluency, to hone student skills, Dixon said.

“If one student was really struggling with punctuation, for example, the teacher worked specifically on that skill,” Dixon said. “Working one-on-one gave an extra boost.”

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