August 1, 2007 Edition

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Summer Reading Camp is great
experience for teachers, students

Kristi Colbert Wilson
Guest Writer

This summer Arkansas Reading First offered professional development to educators through Summer Reading Camp at Hoxie Elementary. Hoxie Elementary was chosen, along with eight other schools in Arkansas, to offer this opportunity.

Summer Reading Camp was held during the month of June. Over 50 students, kindergarten through third grade, attended the camp. To help with attendance for students, Hoxie School District treated all students with perfect attendance for the camp to a field trip to Chuck E. Cheese in Jonesboro. The students also received Wal-Mart gift cards on Fridays for weekly perfect attendance.

This program not only benefits Arkansas educators, it is also benefiting the students.

This camp allows students the chance to maintain the growth they have made during the school year, as well as see some advancement. It gives students a 'leg-up' for the fall.

Camp was started every morning with breakfast and camp songs for the young campers.

"The students enjoyed meeting together first thing in the morning and singing before hiking to their classroom." Hoxie staff proudly decorated the cafeteria as a 'Camping Scene.'

Students in kindergarten and first grade enjoyed reading books related to butterflies and other 'camping insects.' The students were even honored to observe the life cycle of a butterfly. Students enjoyed watching the caterpillar change into the beautiful butterfly. Every morning they would gather by the aquarium to see what changes had occurred. The butterfly was released into the great outdoors after observations!

The Arkansas Reading First Summer Reading Camp offered 35 professional development hours to area educators. Educators from Hoxie, Walnut Ridge, Bay, Westside, Cave City, Greene County Tech, Highland, Jackson County, Calico Rock, Riverside, Mississippi County, Blytheville, Marmaduke and other school districts attended the camp. Participants attended sessions daily Monday through Friday for one week to receive this professional development.

Educators attending the camp observed scientifically-based reading instruction provided by the classroom teacher during the morning session. In the afternoon, literacy coaches provided teachers with information about the five essential elements of reading instruction, alignment of instruction with the Arkansas Curriculum Frameworks and assessment of the essential elements of reading and appropriate interventions.

Arkansas Reading First is a state initiative funded by the federal government as part of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. Through this initiative, Arkansas school districts receive support and professional development to help schools achieve the goal of all children being readers by the end of third grade.

Reading First grants assist Arkansas Schools to implement proven methods of scientifically-based reading instruction in classrooms in order to prevent reading difficulties in grades K-3.

During the school year, literacy coaches attend training provided by Arkansas Reading First professional development associates. The literacy coaches take the training they receive back to their school district for implementation. A coach will work closely with teachers and administrators to help place the implementation in the school. The professional development associates will also visit schools to offer support and more professional development.

It was a great experience and honor for me as the professional development associate with the Northeast Arkansas Co-op, to work with the students and staff during Summer Reading Camp.

Arkansas Reading First and Hoxie Elementary touched many hearts this summer. Students and participants walked away proud from this great experience.

(Note: This series of columns is written by employees of the NEA Educational Cooperative to inform the public about the services provided by the co-op.)

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