At summer school

Summer school began Monday at Butler Elementary School. For the next three weeks, Fort Dodge elementary students will work toward improving their skills.

“We’re focusing on our reading strategies with kids who are below their grade level to try to enhance their learning before the next year starts, and get them motivated to continue their reading and math skills. And then, hopefully, show some growth from where they’re at,” Amy Baker, FDCSD elementary instructor, said.

The program’s elementary students are attending from across the Fort Dodge Community School District.

“We started the program and we had 31 kids registered,” Baker said. “We have three first-graders that were registered, 11 second-graders and 17 third-graders. But we’ve had 15 show up the first day and 17 show up the second day.”

The focus of the summer program, which meets three hours a day, Monday through Thursday, is reading and math.

“They are doing grade-level reading to expose them to their grade level, even if they’re behind, to build some background knowledge and work on their comprehension strategies,” Baker said. “And then we’re doing a lot of (cognitively guided instruction) problems and math talks, and we’re working in a big group to do that so the younger kids can learn from the older kids.”

She added, “It’s been a great experience. The kids are actually leaving the day saying they’ve had fun.”

Baker and co-instructor Brooke Mosher, along with five paraprofessional instructors, use individual and group sessions to help students improve their skills.

“We break up into smaller groups during reading time,” Baker said. “And then during our math time we work together and we’re going around and listening to how the kids are solving their problems. It’s a lot of student-led instruction. We give them a problem and the kids try to figure it out, and then we go over it together and see all the different ways we can solve it.”

A similar method is used to help students with their reading skills.

“We’re exposing them to as many books as possible,” Baker said. “Reading out loud, reading with partners, discussing books. It’s important for parents during the summer to sit down and have their kids reading aloud, so you can hear their words and they can hear their words, instead of silently reading to themselves. Because we really don’t know if they’re reading and comprehending as they go.”

Baker said she enjoys watching students grow and achieve success.

“It’s very exciting for me,” she said. “My focus is seeing that growth. That’s what I look for. That’s what I push for, is those kids to see the growth.”