The estimated reading time for this post is 2 minutes
For many of us, memories of childhood summers involved some combination of running outside until it got dark, sleeping in, and often, some form of summer camp. Camp takes many forms. It can be a multi-week sleep-away camp or a short day camp. Either way, these programs usually served to bring us into contact with other people we weren’t familiar with and provided insight and interaction with subjects or topics that we may not have been able to address during the school year. We, or more often our parents who were only too eager to get the kids out of the house, could find camps that addressed our interests whether they were math, robotics, sports, cooking, or the myriad other topics that seize the imaginations of school-aged children throughout America. These camps, despite their many different foci, served the same purpose: to enrich the lives of the students that participate.
Here is a link to the video we presented at the Share Fair and will use next year for recruitment. (Just a warning: it’s a little long, we did too many things!)
When the district offered teachers to design and create their own Summer Enrichment programs, I, like many other teachers, hesitated the first year. I was unsure of the process, unsure of the ability to find a partner teacher, and frankly unsure of the ability to get a course approved without an intensive math/ELA improvement focus. I spent most of the summer kicking myself for this hesitancy. When the opportunity rolled around the next year, I and my enrichment co-teacher (Andrew Smith) jumped in with both feet. We created a nutrition and fitness program called the “Summer of Strength.” Over the first summer we focused on making healthy choices, exercise, and most of all, fun. We had an overall plan, but we were making up a curriculum model as we went along. The students spent time in the classroom learning to evaluate and track nutrition behavior, make healthy choices when given the opportunity and learning to set and meet short-term and long-term goals. The second half of the day would be spent exercising. Hard. Students lifted weights in our weight room, used slamballs, stationary bikes and plyometrics in our fitness lab and generally made sweaty messes of themselves. We usually ended with a sports competition between the groups.
That summer taught us where to focus and where to adapt our curriculum to best meet the needs of our students. When summer rolled around last year we were ready to give the enrichment program an even better shot. Surprisingly, students were lining up to do it again. This time we had a more concrete plan from the beginning. Nutrition curriculum, integration of Google Apps, planned water/scavenger hunts, t-shirts, a no-cost field trip option and a large group outing provided the framework to flesh out a unique enrichment experience for the 40 students that participated at various times throughout the summer.
This year there were over 80 different programs designed to provide the enriching summer experiences that many of our students do not usually get the opportunity to participate in. While I can speak only of my experience, what I can hope to do is to provide an idea and a motivation for other teachers out there to create a program for a need they may feel is out there. The Summer Enrichment Program gives a chance to teach a subject we are passionate about, whether it be history, journalism, robotics, or anything else. This is personalized learning on a district-level scale.