Many students welcome a long summer off of school, while others can’t wait to get back into the classroom. About 800 Topeka Public Schools students in kindergarten through 8th grade are getting the best of both worlds in summer school, also known as the 2014 Summer Experience.
In this program, students attend morning sessions throughout the month of June. In addition to receiving breakfast, lunch and recess time, they also have the invaluable opportunity to maintain the skills they acquired during the school year and to improve in areas that may need a little extra attention. The students are taught at their own individual level using differentiated instruction---they work in small groups, independently, and receive one-on-one help from their teachers. The kids, who all attend voluntarily, have a wide range of learning abilities, so the instruction is both remedial and enriching, depending on each student’s needs. Mathematics, reading and writing are all incorporated into the curriculum.
One of the unique aspects of the Summer Experience is the project that each child works on throughout the course of the program. Every school has selected their own project theme. The students are taught about the theme, conduct their own research, and work together in groups to compile a project showcasing what they have learned. Many of the schools will have project presentations on the last day of the program, June 27th.
Dr. Diane Cox, director of teaching and learning for Topeka Public Schools, has worked hard to make this program fun and worthwhile for the students. “For some of our district’s neediest kids, school is not a happy place because they don’t feel successful. Here, they’re working at their own instruction level at all times, so they’re challenged, supported and they’re experiencing success all along the way.”
For students who weren’t able to attend the Summer Experience, but want to maintain their skills throughout the summer break, Dr. Cox has one main recommendation: “Go to the library, join the summer reading program, and read, read, read!”
Meadows Elementary is one of the five schools hosting the 2014 Summer Experience, and their theme is The Olympics.