For many Oklahoma kids who need help
improving their literacy skills, summer break offers an opportunity to slow
down and focus on reading. In schools throughout the state, summer reading
academies and similar programs are growing in popularity.
Under the Reading Sufficiency Act (RSA) ,
third-grade students at risk of being retained are eligible for promotion to
the next grade upon successful completion of a summer reading academy or other
program. The law requires retention and remediation for third graders who score
Unsatisfactory on the state reading test or score below minimum
third-level proficiency on district-selected formative assessment or do not
receive an exemption.
“Summer reading academies are a smart and
effective route for many children with reading difficulties,” said state
Superintendent of Public Instruction Janet Barresi. “More and more school
districts are offering such programs, which are certain to go a long way toward
giving kids the gift of reading.”
As outlined by the RSA, summer reading
- last four weeks with four half-days
- incorporate content of a scientifically based reading program,
- are taught by teachers who have received professional development in
reading instruction, and
- are open to students who score below a benchmark on midyear reading
In the northern Oklahoma town of
Collinsville, Wilson Elementary School’s summer reading academy kicked off June
2. While its program has been offered for several years now, the RSA’s
provision on third-grade reading retention prompted the school to strengthen
“We decided that we were going to step our
game up in the summer reading academy so we could meet those needs,” Principal
Cheryl Hunt said.
This year, Wilson added second graders to the
program for the first time. Six teachers work with five or six students apiece
in the reading academy, with the groups divided by specific needs.
Kids receive breakfast if they haven’t eaten
before they arrive at school. There are literacy warm-up exercises for students
who show up before the 9 a.m. start time.
Once class starts, things get moving.
“We try to have something different every 30
minutes, so that it all involves reading but it’s moving with a purpose,” Hunt
The students cycle between lessons and
practice, visiting the motor lab on campus and joining other classes for larger
group activities. Hunt said participants take regular trips to the town library
nearby to register for library cards and hear from the librarian.
“As we dismissed today (June 2), there were
three or four students coming around the corner who were saying, ‘Wow, summer
school is cool; I didn’t know it was like this,’” Hunt said.
For students in Oklahoma City Public Schools
(OKCPS), summer is an opportunity to continue intensive reading programs
outside of the regular school year. Like the program in Collinsville, OKC
students will cycle between lessons, group practice, visits to media centers
and different literacy-focused activities.
Oklahoma City’s summer program goes on for
two weeks. The district provides specialized reading instruction throughout the
year and holds reading-focused programs during its breaks, which last longer
than those in most districts as the result of a year-round schedule.
“We’re continuing what we’re doing during the
year for our students who need that intensive intervention,” said Jessika Hill,
curriculum coordinator for elementary English and language arts at OKCPS.
Students in the OKCPS program were identified
in parent-teacher conferences. Once students are determined to need help, their
progress is closely monitored.
“We try to make it very targeted, and they’re
giving up their break so we try to make it fun as well,” Hill said.
The district also organizes regular community
conferences to give parents materials about how their children can put reading
into practice and avoid the so-called “summer backslide.” District officials
also offer an online component of reading instruction to encourage reading
outside of the classroom.
Engagement at home is key, Hill said.
Help motivate your kids to read this summer by getting them involved in one or more summer reading programs. From your local library to national web-based programs, there are many free options with a host of themes and activities. Here are just a few we've come across for this season:
The Scholastic Summer Reading Challenge, this year titled
“Reading Under the Stars,” provides resources and challenges for kids, parents
and teachers. Kids who sign up can log minutes as they read throughout the
summer, take weekly challenges and enter sweepstakes to win free books as they
meet goals through Sept. 5. Parents can register their kids and access
resources and activities to help summer reading in different age groups.
Scholastic also offers a Facebook app with monthly reading calendars.
Many Oklahoma public libraries will be offering free
summer reading programs. The Oklahoma Department of Libraries (ODL) is
providing many local libraries with themed programs that center on science (with such titles as “Fizz, Boom, Read” and “Spark a Reaction”). Some may sponsor contests or
offer prizes as kids record their reading. The ODL is also partnering with
other agencies to award scholarships and books through its program. To learn more about the specific summer reading initiatives in your community,
contact your library.
Kids can earn a free book and parents can download a
resource kit through Barnes & Noble’s summer reading program, titled
“Imagination’s Destination.” To participate, kids record books as they
complete them in the provided log. Once they finish eight books, they can take
the log to a Barnes & Noble store and choose a free book from a list. The
program closes Sept. 2.
The Half Price Books “Feed Your Brain Summer Reading
Program” offers readers 14 and younger the chance to win prizes in June and July
for reading at least 15 minutes daily. Once
they reach 300 minutes, they are eligible to receive a discount coupon to Half
Price Books and can enter a monthly drawing for a free book at
their local store.
“Book Adventure” from Sylvan offers many resources for kids,
parents and teachers. Kids in grades kindergarten through eighth create
their own reading lists from a catalog of nearly 8,000 titles and take quizzes
on those books after reading them. Parents can
track their children's progress through the “Books Adventures” website, and kids can
Register now to attend Vision 2020, the Oklahoma State Department of Education's annual free conference for educators, parents and everyone else with a stake in schools.
Parents are welcome to attend all sessions at Vision 2020, but Parent Power Night is set aside especially for them.
The entire conference takes place July 15 – 17 at the Cox Convention Center in downtown Oklahoma City. Parent Power Night will be Tuesday, July 15,
5:30 – 7 p.m.
Although the conference is free to attend, space is limited so register today:
The USDA Summer Food Service Program provides nutritious meals to low-income children for free by opening up cafeterias between school years.
All children under the age of 18 who show up at participating sites to eat will be given a meal. Many sites are schools, but not all. Some are operated by nonprofits.
The program is administered by the Oklahoma State Department of Education.
To find the closest site to you providing free meals to kids this summer, click this link to access an interactive map, and please feel free to share. (Note: The map may require a free plug-in on some web browsers. See the "Instructions" section if you encounter problems.)
A national hotline has also been established to connect people with local food sites. Call 1-866-348-6479 for English or 1-877-842-6273 for Spanish.
Oklahoma Teacher of the Year Peter Markes has a new blog
post about the state of being busy and how it can be used in a positive way to
help each other:
“Too often we wear ‘Busy’ as a badge of honor. As has
become the American way, we pride ourselves on work and accomplishments. Of
course we are busy! If we were not busy, we would probably not form the
friendships we currently have. It is this common passion for ‘doing’ that
brings us together. We do good work in the service of others, and we dedicate
time to friends and family, and these chosen tasks inherently make us busy…
“I hope we eventually agree that it is great fun to be ‘busy.’
Remember that there is always time to talk to someone, no matter how busy. If
it means we stick around five minutes longer, or stay up an hour later, it is
the kind of busy we should all seek in the end. I encourage each of us to fill
our lives with meaningful conversations, positive experiences and special
Read the whole post here:
Although many summer camps are already booked, there may
still be some space available elsewhere. There are Oklahoma camps for all kinds
of interests. If you’re still looking for one, start with these databases
from Oklahoma City’s and Tulsa’s family publications.
Remember to like OSDE's Parent Power Facebook page for interesting links throughout the week.