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Improving Literacy with Summer School

Literacy activities relate to a level of functioning regarding the abilities to effectively read, write, speak and listen to others. During the summer, reading activities can sometimes fall by the wayside without the benefit of daily re-enforcement in a classroom environment. To mitigate this issue, one innovative school in Alaska put a mix of different types of learners at all different levels of abilities into a summer school class and witnessed very encouraging results. Summer reading lists had been a thing of the past, but not anymore. The students in this class read college texts and help teach each other the material, which aids in literacy development. Summer reading that engages children of all ages is meeting with renewed vigor and success. The middle school in Alaska seems to be proof of the value of summer reading.

What Are Some Skills Necessary for Quality Peer Interactions among Students?

Not all students have training in or explicit teaching in the fields of listening and speaking. For receptive language, these children need:

  • Verbal comprehension
  • Sound discrimination
  • And the ability to extract meaning from non-literal or abstract language

For expressive communication, children need to:

  • Organize and plan what they say
  • Be able to retrieve words
  • Put ideas into appropriate grammatical structures
  • Pronounce multisyllabic words

Discussion is a key modality of literacy activities and a learning method that teaches all levels of learners the abilities they need. This is one thing the middle school in Alaska did well this summer. The students discuss what they read and in turn learn from each other and acquire new knowledge all the while improving their reading comprehension. Their listening skills improve, too.

Good Readers Have Certain Skills That Can Be Taught

Effective readers have an internal lexicon of sight words that they can process immediately and gain an immediate sense of the context and meaning of the sentence and paragraph. When they hit an unfamiliar word, good readers will decode it by sounding it out. This sounding out of words should not be underestimated as a literacy activity. Text should allow for meaning without images. Listening to a tape helps with reading comprehension as well. Something as simple as a card or piece of paper can help readers to not skip lines and become confused. Reading aloud is also a valuable literacy activity.

Students learn a great deal of information from each other. A variety of learners at different levels and different types of learners can enhance reading comprehension through discussion. Summer reading and summer school may give a boost to students who need additional time acquiring skills to be good readers.

Learn about the UT Arlington M.Ed. in Literacy Studies online program.


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