Mt Pleasant News

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Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 18, 2018

Summer reading off to a hot start

Jul 11, 2017

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News


Lori LaFrenz can tell you the first year of any new endeavor is going to have a learning curve.

Last year, she piloted a summer intensive reading program for younger elementary school students. Although there are still some kinks to work out, the Lincoln Elementary School Principal says this summer things are running a little smoother.

The program, which is funded through a Title I grant, allows for 60 students, second and first-graders, who were identified as substantially deficient on the Formative Assessment for Students and Teachers.

LaFrenz said 50 students signed up for the summer reading program, but she’s only averaging 35 students a day. “We have 45 that attend, but they have things like swimming lessons and golf lessons and church camp; all things that are good for kids,” she said. “So we’re only averaging 35.”

Despite the lower than anticipated attendance, the program had been reformatted from last year. LaFrenz said the program is academically focused, but still manages to bring summer fun into the classroom.

“The last part of the day we all get up and dance around,” she said.

Besides their end-of-day dance party, the students move from group to group throughout the day as their lessons and activities are divided into different sections. LaFrenz said throughout the day students will go into different groups to focus on things like phonics, site words and working on their comprehension.

“We’re seeing some very impactful progress,” she told the board.

The schedule of the program has also changed from its inception. Last summer, students would attend classes for two weeks and then had a week off. This spanned the months of June, July and August. This year, instead, students are in class for three weeks, one week off and then finish out the program for a final three weeks. LaFrenz said this has helped with overall attendance.

In regards to attendance, LaFrenz said should the program be allowed for a third summer, she would like to “back fill” by inviting more than 60 students into the classroom. “I’d also like to look at kindergarten and first grade to fill the spots,” she said.

LaFrenz said the younger the district can start a reading intervention, the more profound the effect it will have on the student.

LaFrenz said should the district approve the program again; Iowa Wesleyan has approached her to partner in the program. “They have students that would like to do a summer reading practicum,” she said.

This would not only allow IW students to earn a reading certification, it would also allow LaFrenz to rely more on interns and not paid district staff.

LaFrenz said she does not have a full analysis of this summer’s reading program, but she is optimistic the reformation of the program has been beneficial to the students attending. “And if we can get kids to like reading and want to read, that’s 75 percent of the job done,” she added.

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