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Franklin camp open to more than kindergartners

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When about 20 Franklin second-graders arrived for the first day of reading camp this summer, many of them were still trying to learn words that don’t sound the way they’re spelled, such as “the.”

Teacher Anne Wilson tested the students’ vocabularies on the first day of camp, seeing how many of them recognized or knew the definitions of 54 words.

These are words the students should have mastered by the time they reach second grade.

On the first day some students knew about 90 percent of the words, while other students knew just over half, Wilson said.

She and another teacher spent the next three weeks reading stories with the students, and having the kids read in small groups. She taught the students new vocabulary words and reviewed old ones and also had the students practice and perform a play.

This week, they were tested again. All of them knew at least 80 percent or more of the words.

“I know that they’ll start second grade much more confident than if they didn’t have this. This is huge,” Wilson said.

Franklin invited the second-graders, along with 20 first-graders, to a three-week reading camp this summer.

This was the first year for the reading camp, which coincided with Franklin’s kindergarten camp, which the school district has hosted for nine years. About 80 students attended both programs.

The three and-a-half hour kindergarten camp includes reading and counting lessons, and is intended to give children who haven’t been to preschool or daycare a preview of what their days will be like in kindergarten.

Students also learn how their teachers will expect them to behave in and outside of the classroom.

Franklin added the reading camp this summer to help ensure that younger students who needed extra help developing their reading skills will be better prepared before they start school this fall, Northwood principal Katie Crites said.

“It’s a layer of intervention that these kids needed,” Crites said.

School districts regularly assess students’ reading skills throughout the school year, and the students invited to the reading camp were either behind or at risk of falling behind their classmates.

In third grade, students must take and pass the IREAD-3 exam to ensure they’re reading at grade level before they can move on the fourth grade reading lessons, and as students get older they’ll be expected to start reading to gain information in most of their subjects, Crites said.

The students invited to the reading camp already were receiving extra reading instruction during the school year to help them master lessons they didn’t understand.

Offering the reading camp to the students helps ensure they’ll be stronger readers as they get older, Crites said.

The 40 students in the reading camp worked with a teacher to review lessons they didn’t understand during the school year.

For first-graders, that typically involved learning to identify and sound out letters, and learning new vocabulary words. Second-graders also reviewed vocabulary words, and also started building stronger reading comprehension skills, so they could better understand questions they read, Crites said.

Franklin officials were initially unsure whether they would be able to offer the kindergarten and reading camps this summer.

Both programs are paid for with just less than $20,000 in Title 1 funds, which is federal money Franklin receives to help educate students from low-income families. Franklin’s Title 1 funding was cut by $89,000, or 11 percent, because of federal spending cuts.

The school district will have to wait and see again whether the camps can be continued next summer, school officials said.

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