Moffat County High School teacher Katy Gray, center, helps students with reading skills Thursday at the Summer Reading Lab. Danielle Knez, 13, from right, Sean Johnson, 15, Colten Yoast, 11, and Terra Rieser, 15, listen in while Gray explains parts of a story.

Photo by Hans Hallgren

Moffat County High School teacher Katy Gray, center, helps students with reading skills Thursday at the Summer Reading Lab. Danielle Knez, 13, from right, Sean Johnson, 15, Colten Yoast, 11, and Terra Rieser, 15, listen in while Gray explains parts of a story.

Summer school programs offer reading, math help to students

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At a glance

• Summer school programs now are in session for Moffat County School District students kindergarten through 12th grades.

• The School District has organized the June summer school programs that are hosted at Sunset Elementary School, Craig Intermediate School and Moffat County High School.

• Each program offers help for students reading below grade level.

• The summer school program at Sunset Elementary offers a remedial math program.

• Students are recommended to the program by their teachers based on their performance in class and their Colorado Student Assessment Program scores.

— The Sunset Elementary School library was empty Thursday morning.

Empty, that is, with the exception of Charlotte Mason, Sunset Elementary third grade teacher and two of the elementary school's students, Jesus Paez, 5, and Emily Valdez, 5.

Paez and Valdez each bent over a book and read aloud while Mason followed along, occasionally stepping in to correct a misread word. Other books with titles such as "Hello Ocean" and "Gregory the Terrible Eater" lay on a table nearby as they read.

School may have ended for most Moffat County School District students. For Paez and Valdez, however, class still is in session.

Schools across the district are hosting summer school programs this month to bolster students' reading and math skills. This year, summer reading programs are in session for students from kindergarten to 12th grades who are performing below grade level.

Teachers recommend students to summer school based on their performance in class and on tests, including the Colorado Student Assessment Program.

Deb Frazier, Craig Intermediate School literacy coordinator, believes some students can benefit from an added four weeks of school.

"I just think summer school provides another month where students are immersed in math or reading," said Frazier, who co-directs the elementary summer school program with Mason.

Sunset Elementary's program includes remedial reading and math sessions. Skills targeted in the former lessons include phonics, reading comprehension and decoding, or "breaking down a word into chunks so (students) can figure out for themselves what the word is," Frazier said.

Summer school coordinators try to limit class sizes to five students, she said.

Maintaining a low student-to-teacher ratio "makes a big difference," she said, adding that students are usually grouped together according to their strengths and weaknesses.

However, summer school isn't all about class work at Sunset Elementary.

If students come to all four summer school sessions per week, they earn a free book. Parents pay $10 to enroll their students in the program, but the fee is returned if their children maintain perfect attendance throughout the month, Frazier said.

CIS and Moffat County High School are hosting similar programs this month.

A remedial reading program at the Intermediate School focuses on phonics and reading comprehension skills. However, unlike the program at Sunset Elementary, which runs Monday through Thursday, the Intermediate School program is scheduled each weekday for four hours daily.

"It's more in depth with the reading and phonics," said Bobbi McAlexander, East Elementary School third-grade teacher. "It takes a little more time to implement than some of the other programs."

As she spoke, a chorus of student voices chimed out sounds making up various words. In an activity called "tapping sounds," students tap fingers and thumb to count each sound in a word, McAlexander said.

No tapping was in sight in a high school classroom Thursday morning where summer school was in session for students in seventh through 12th grades.

Instead, students bent over texts in groups of four and five.

The purpose of the high school's Summer Reading Lab was to develop reading skills across all content areas, including math, social studies, English and horticulture, said Mary Quinn, Moffat County High School English teacher.

This year, six teachers led the reading sessions in groups of four to five students, Quinn said.

"It's kind of how education should be," she said. "This is more open and honest."

Shayla Gearhart, an upcoming high school junior, was one of 25 students enrolled in the program this year. She said she preferred the smaller class sizes at the reading lab but added that she didn't think the program was significantly bolstering her reading skills.

"I think (my reading skills) are the same," she said. "I feel like I've already learned all this stuff before."

Bridget Manley can be reached at 875-1795 or bmanley@craigdailypress.com

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