EL SAIL Elementary Camp
by Miranda Bolden
Our Elementary English Learners Camp is a dynamic summer experience designed for our EL Students in grades K-5. This camp aims to prepare students to meet challenging academic standards, as well as support English language development. This event boasts the involvement of 12 teachers, one administrator, and two support staff members. We typically expect 80-90 students to participate, with over 12 languages represented in the camp.
Students are selected for this camp based on language and academic needs using multiple criteria ranking to be completed by their home school’s EL teacher. Components such as the student’s most recent WIDA scores, long-term EL status, teacher input, and academic performance are the foundation for eligibility. While many wish to attend due to the camp’s reputation, we truly aim to focus on those with the greatest need.
This camp is funded through our partnership with the School’s Foundation, SAIL (Summer Adventures in Learning) initiative, and is supplemented with Title I and Title III funds. We use these funds to support staff salaries, purchase supplies for the students and instruction, and offer educational field trips.
Because our chief objective is to diminish or wholly eliminate the summer learning slide, we implement daily instruction in math, reading, and STEM. Instruction is based on appropriate grade-level power standards as well as state WIDA standards. We also focus heavily on activities to support written and spoken acquisition of the English language, with ample opportunity to speak and present.
In addition to the direct academic goals, we also aim to ensure this program has a fun and engaging “camp” feel. In order to achieve this, we incorporate weekly themes. For example, in 2019, one week’s theme was “Community Helpers”. During this week the students were exposed to vocabulary parallel to this theme. Visitors such as firemen, police officers, dentists, nurses, and fitness instructors joined classes each day to speak on how they interact and influence our community. The culminating activity for that week was an “around the community” field trip, where students visited the Madison City Police Station, Madison City Fire Department, and a local Publix Supermarket. We ended the day with a picnic at Dublin Park to truly celebrate our community.
One of the most exciting events from camp is “Spotlight Day”. On this day, we invite stakeholders such as SAIL funders, our Superintendent and Board of Education, all elementary Principals, and many from MCS Central Office. Student ambassadors of all ages proudly escort guests around camp showcasing what they have learned and items they have created. Each adult leaves with an enormous smile across their face!
Our Gallery Walk is by far the most impassioned day of camp, as families are invited to bring a dish and share a beautiful, cultural meal. Tears fill many of the teachers’ eyes as they see the pride in which parents offer their dish. This event is a perfect representation of what makes this camp so special.
For the summer of 2020, we held a virtual camp, but even this did not stop our staff from going above and beyond to make sure our students received an excellent learning experience. Teachers delivered supplies and learning crates each week to enable hands-on learning to be completed along with the class virtually. Campers and parents praised the experience and shared success stories of continued learning and growth.
EL Secondary Camp ELLevate
by Ambra Johnson and Jane Herndon:
The Secondary EL Summer Camp, Camp Ellevate, was created when educators saw a need for EL students in grades 6-12 to have access to high quality instruction during the summer months to help them continue to grow in their knowledge and acquisition of the English language. After seeing how successful the Elementary EL Camp was for the past several years, the secondary team wanted to be able to provide a similar experience for Madison City students as they moved up in grade levels.
The inaugural Camp Ellevate took place during an unprecedented time when students and teachers alike were conducting studies from home due to COVID-19. Knowing the challenges that lay ahead with online instruction and providing EL students with a solid experience, the teachers heading up the camp took it upon themselves to dive in with enthusiasm and energy, providing creative solutions to our first-ever secondary summer camp.
Camp consisted of daily meetings on Google Meet and the delivery of weekly “mystery bags” to students’ homes that were packed with fun activities for the week. Teachers led students through activities such as making slime, designing aliens from outer space, and baking cakes in mugs. Students interacted with teachers daily, learning more about language acquisition, developing their vocabulary, and strengthening their reading comprehension skills as well. Students and teachers alike looked forward to class meetings, and by the end of camp, students were able to continue their learning for an entire month, engage with others, use and practice their language skills, and confidently grow to be better prepared for the new school year.
Video created by Daniel Whitt