By Rebecca Savage, Winooski, VT High School ELL Teacher
This summer the Shader Croft School ran two, five week programs in the Winooski middle school for ELL students. The Shader Croft School is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2000. They partner with various public schools to offer a four to five week literacy program during the summer. We were able to have the Shader Croft program come to Winooski through a Title III grant and generous sponsors.
The mission of the Shader Croft School is, “ to provide basic literacy skill instruction to middle school students by providing a highly engaging student-centered, community-based, experiential, integrated learning environment. Shader Croft seeks to empower young adolescents with the skills and confidence necessary to achieve academic success.” This was achieved through a balance of academics, student led trips and teacher planned adventures.
Each student was responsible for identifying something they wanted to learn about and then planning a trip around that interest for the rest of the class. Every day the students spent the morning on academic work and then the afternoons were devoted to student led trips or teacher planned adventures.
The academic portion of the program was split into four classes-reading, writing, oral expression and trip planning/personal growth. Students began the program by setting goals in each of these academic areas. At the end of the program students re-visited their goals and reflected on their progress.
In reading class students learned vocabulary and read information about the trips they were going on to build background knowledge. They also worked on skills such as identifying the main idea of a story, using details to support their thinking, asking questions to monitor understanding and summarizing what they read.
Writing class focused on crafting complete and descriptive sentences and paragraphs. Students spent a large part of writing class creating pieces that were published in a journal that was published and distributed to families, community members and faculty at the end of the program. The journal included the students trip summaries, recipes and six word stories.
In Oral Expression class, students practiced giving and receiving directions, introducing themselves to new people, phone etiquette and asking questions. Students also created Quizlet sets to acquire and practice new academic vocabulary.
During Trip Planning and Personal Growth class students worked with the trip planner teacher to map out their trip. Students had to look up information and travel directions on the computer. They made phone calls to businesses and community members to arrange their trip and finally they had to brainstorm and write down questions to ask. After the trip was completed, students filled out a trip reflection card, composed and sent thank you letters and wrote up a summary of their trip. For the Personal Growth portion of class students read stories and articles related to bullying and the pressures of being a teenager in today’s world.
Student led trips included: a tour of the air traffic control tower at the Burlington Airport, a visit to Folino’s pizza in Shelburne, fishing at Indian Brook Reservoir, a tour of the Vermont State Police barracks in Williston, video game design at the Emergent media center at Champlain College, a boat ride on the Spirit of Ethan Allen, a lesson on Vermont Geology at the UVM Perkins Museum and an afternoon of soccer with the Saint Michael’s College soccer coach.
The students’ favorite adventure of the summer was swimming! We began the summer with swim lessons at the YMCA in Burlington. Students learned swim safety and basic strokes. If the weather was nice in the afternoon, we were off to a swimming destination. Students enjoyed the waters at Bayside Park, Sand Bar and Oakledge Park.
Students concluded the Shader Croft program by giving presentations about their learning via the Google Maps tool. Throughout the summer students documented their experiences with writing and photos on their Google Map. The presentations took place on the last day of school with faculty and community members in the audience. The experience gave students valuable practice with the Effective Written, Oral Communication and Critical Thinking and Problem Solving Graduate Expectations.
Steve Hyde, the director of the Shader Croft school, summed up the program with this, “It was a pleasure to work with the students from Winooski and we were delighted to be able to give these wonderful students a productive and rewarding summer experience.”
The program was a huge success and we hope the Shader Croft School will return next summer!
For more information on the Shader Croft School and their SES tutoring services, contact Steve Hyde at 802-598-3864 or firstname.lastname@example.org