Guest Post by Kathleen Horgan, English teacher Southbridge Public Schools
I am so pleased to have been selected to facilitate the Scholastic’s LitCamp for Southbridge Public Schools this summer. I am one of four teachers who are coordinating LitCamps for approximately seventy-five summer school enrichment students in our district. I am working with rising fourth and fifth graders in one group and rising sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in another group.
I have to confess all of the LitCamp instructors initially were concerned about the outcomes of providing two and a half hours of literacy programming each day. We were worried that it might be too much for the kids or if it even would hold their interest, but our students adapted easily into the program and with tremendous enthusiasm. My experience with the students in the LitCamp program has been extraordinarily positive. It has been a joy to see the students embrace reading with such vigor and enjoy it wholeheartedly!
The program is designed to feel like a summer camp. I turned my LitCamp into a beach theme. I often wear a beach hat and the students bring towels, sunglasses, beach blankets, and other items with them to make reading more comfortable, while embracing the spirit of the theme.
During campfire circle-time, there are a large number of high interest diverse texts and fun activities that are built around each book. Also, students are given ample independent reading time called bunk-time. Students choose a book from this extensive collection and seek out a special place in the classroom where they can read silently for pleasure. Students often become so interested in their books that I have to re-collect them from special hiding places so that other students may have access to them later. It is a joy to watch the students fall in love with literature and want to read “their book” the next day.
Our campers will leave LitCamp with a large collection of books that they will be able to keep (along with a portfolio and a stylish bracelet)! Our aim in Southbridge is to turn all of our students into highly accomplished readers and language learners. LitCamp is an important component to the continuation of the We Read Big program through the summer months. I expect many return LitCampers and that our current campers will bring their friends with them next summer, as well. I can’t wait to be a part of this next year, too!