LearningWorks summer programs diminish learning loss

Thanks to LearningWorks for sharing the following article with the Maine DOE for publication.

How does a kite stay airborne? How does the design of a leaf impact its ability to move through the air? How do birds use their beaks to get food?

Over the course of four weeks this summer, third, fourth and fifth grade students at Reiche Community School and East End Community School in Portland  have had the opportunity to ask these questions, and explore the answers through hands-on activities combined with research and study.

Fifth grader Ahado Diriye explores how shore birds pick up food by using chopsticks to simulate a bird’s beak.

“We work with school year teachers to develop an engaging summer curriculum that prepares students to be more successful when they are back at school in September,” said Amy Pichette, director of after-school programming at LearningWorks. For the past three years, LearningWorks has collaborated with area schools to develop exciting content, based on the learning results teachers have tracked throughout the year along with  topics and themes that students who need more time learning would find interesting.

“Many times, the students say they don’t feel like they are in what may be considered traditional summer school,” Pichette continued. “This is because our goal is to design activities that center around active participation in reading, writing, science, engineering and math. This student-centered environment encourages deeper engagement of students resulting in a better understanding of concepts.”

Research shows that summer vacation, while a traditional respite from the school year, actually hinders achievement in math, science and reading—especially for low-income children. This learning gap then accumulates, and by the end of fifth grade, those same children have lost as much as two years of learning.

LearningWorks is addressing this phenomenon by creating meaningful programming to help children increase their skills in math, science, engineering and reading through skillful use of technology  and a format that is hands-on.“Kids are responding so well to this format,” Pichette said, “and we are continually using data to refine how and what we teach. Next year, the questions posed to the students may be different, but the goal is the same: to encourage continual learning all year long.”

LearningWorks AfterSchool is a 21st Century Learning Center program, funded by the Maine Department of Education. LearningWorks’ mission is to provide the best learning opportunities in Maine for at-risk youth, the immigrant community and low-income families. Their programs serve over 1,200 Maine residents each year.


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