Summer READS: A Literacy, Art, Music and Science program
Consider this: About two-thirds of the ninth-grade achievement gap between lower and higher income youth can be explained by unequal access to summer learning activities during the elementary school years. As a result, low-income youth are less likely to graduate from high school or enter college. (Alexander et al. 2007)
Philadelphia READS Summer READS is a six-week program designed to engage students with learning over the summer. The extensive Summer READS Literacy, Art, Music and Science curriculum is designed for first through fourth graders. The thematically designed program is built around 12-15 core read aloud books.
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In 2012, Summer READS partnered with The Franklin Institute to provide a Traveling Science Show that visited every site to engage students in a participatory learning experience with a scientist from the Institute. The show’s theme was The Human Body and the Science of Sport. This enhanced the theme of the Olympics and helped students make connections from the thematic books to science. The Franklin Institute also provided a science curriculum designed to be taught before and after the science show visit. The science component was made possible by a generous grant from the American Honda Foundation and Dow Chemical.
A science program and arts program are incorporated into the theme. The Summer READS 2012 program was held at 13 sites throughout the city, many in collaboration with the nonprofit organization Education Works. Our theme for Summer 2012 was How Does the World Unite Through the Olympics? Our theme for Summer 2013 will be Building a Better Me!
Integrating the arts is a key component to the program. Through partnership with visiting artists and curriculum created to support multiple intelligences, Summer READS enriches the students’ appreciation for art and music. In Summer 2012, Philadelphia READS partnered with PAFA, All Together Sing, and The Black Pearl Orchestra. Visiting artists from each organization visited the summer sites to lead theme based lessons and activities that supported and enhanced the summer’s theme.
The 2012 program was also supported by donors including Hamilton Family Foundation and Education Improvement Tax Credit Program (EITC) funds.
A main focus of our program is on strengthening story retelling skills. The good news is that 71% of the students from Summer 2012 maintained or increased their ability to comprehensively retell a story!
Here’s what teachers are saying about the program:
“I thought that the majority of the curriculum was very well thought out and proved to be very helpful. The read-alouds were all excellent and succeeded in tapping into the summer's theme and were books that the students could easily relate to and enjoy. The extension/theme activities were also well thought out and proved to be interesting and engaging for the students.” -Danielle S.
“I thought that all the visiting artists were outstanding. The students really enjoyed having a break from the traditional classroom activities and seemed to really be engaged and inspired by many of the visiting artists.” -Alexis G.
“My favorite thing was having such a fun theme this summer. It was new and refreshing. I love watching the kids getting exposed to reading and writing during the summer time. I make it all fun, but by the end they can still tell me verbally the who, where, what, and how in every story!” -Jenni R.