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Burrell’s Superstar Summer Camp

Bon Air Students Get a Head Start on the New School Year

Making macaroni necklaces and canoeing might be staples of traditional summer camps, but at Bon Air Elementary School’s Superstar Summer Camp, the emphasis is on academics.
For the past four years, the camp – a Title I program – has been available to any Bon Air student in need of extra support when it comes to reading skills. Fifty students in all (10 entering kindergarten, and 20 entering each first and second grades) were invited to take part in the two-week camp, which met for two hours each day.

“We use this as a boost, right in the middle of summer, to help prepare the students for the next grade level,” said Principal Amy Lenart. “We assessed the students at the beginning of the camp, and again at the end. The progress they’ve made is remarkable,” Ms. Lenart said.
Bon Air teachers and reading specialists work with the students by grade level, reviewing skills that have already been introduced and looking ahead to what they will learn in the upcoming school year. Reading specialist Kristin Gigliotti and kindergarten teacher Janine Feather have worked with students transitioning from kindergarten to first grade at the camp for the past few years.

They have seen a marked difference this year in the students’ pre-assessments, and they attribute the improvement to WIN time introduced at Bon Air last year. WIN time, or “What I Need” time, is a reading skills-based grouping arrangement that provides targeted remediation or enrichment for students on the specific skills.
“Last year, we were playing catch-up with kindergarten skills during the summer camp,” Miss Feather said. “This year, after WIN, we are able to dive into some of the first grade skills.”
“In previous years, we’ve had to review letters and sounds with this grade level,” Mrs. Gigliotti said. “This year, we’ve concentrated on blending letters and sight words. We’re seeing the benefits of WIN already.”

The incoming first-graders used an application on iPads that tested their word recognition. A word was pronounced by the iPad, and the students had to click on the correct word from a list on the screen. They also used picture cards to fill in the blanks on sentence boards to make complete, coherent sentences. “The kids are basically getting a jump start on what they will be seeing in first grade,” Mrs. Gigliotti said. “And they really enjoy the activities.”
Students completing the summer camp were given folders with additional activities to work on before school starts.

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