'The way to teach'

Summer Reading Lab offers one-on-one teaching for students, cross-curriculum opportunities for teachers

Learning about Pythagoras turned into a toga party Tuesday as students enrolled in Moffat County School District's Summer Reading Lab got involved with their history lesson.

"Can you see the excitement?" said Amber Clark, a science teacher at Moffat County High School. "You don't get this in a typical classroom."

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The program, which includes 12 students this year, invites students to learn math, science, English and social studies skills in a small group, interactive setting.

"These kids just need the continued practice in reading and writing," said Lori Dodge, a Craig Middle School reading and social studies teacher. "If you don't use a skill you'll lose it."

Dodge coordinates the program, which runs for four hours a day, four days a week for four weeks. Students in grades 7 to 12 can sign up or are recommended by their teachers. Those entering or enrolled in high school earn a 1/2 credit of an English elective toward graduation.

Dodge oversees the lessons taught by four middle and high school teachers. This year it's Clark; James Neton, high school social studies; Amy Pottinger, high school English; and Christie Palmer, middle school math.

"The five of us help each other teach, so we get to look at it from different perspectives," Pottinger said. "We have five experts in four fields. It's a really fun way to teach."

The program, in its ninth year, focuses on students' reading comprehension and writing skills, as well as developing their problem solving skills.

They do all this while incorporating lessons the students find interesting, such as a fire lab and ice cream lab, Dodge said. Clark said the teachers can use such lessons to teach multiple subjects.

"This is a great way to collaborate across department lines and collaborate across building lines," Clark said.

The students seem to enjoy the extra attention they receive due to the low teacher-to-student ratio.

"You don't have to keep your hand up that long until a teacher comes to help you," said Fernando Duarte, who will be a sophomore in the fall.

Sam Fox, who will be an eighth-grader, said she likes having teachers for all her subjects in one room.

"You don't have to walk class to class," Fox said. "You don't have homework. It's funner because you get to play more games."

The instructors benefit, too, Clark said.

"It's a way for us to get new teaching techniques and get familiar with new teaching styles we might have never tried before," Clark said.

Those new techniques can sometimes translate into the typical school year classroom.

"This is a chance for them to try it. If it fails, it fails," Dodge said. "If it succeeds, they can try it in their classroom next year or tweak it."

But Dodge worries the program, which was funded by a grant in its first two years, could soon be cut from Moffat County School District's budget.

Pottinger said that would be a shame.

"This is the way to teach," she said.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 213, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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