Total Learning Summer Camp – It Makes a Difference!

TL Summer Camp Overview and Research Findings

It was always a plan for Bridgeport’s Total Learning Initiative to have an extended year – an additional month of school.  Research told us that if the children were behind their more advantaged peers, they would need time to catch up!  ABCD received funding for a pilot this year.

It was only 18 days in July for 22 rising 3rd graders.  The air conditioning was broken, and it was summer!  And . . . it was Total Learning  Summer Camp from 12 noon to 3:30.

Why rising 3rd graders?  To reduce the dreaded summer slump – the loss of reading skill over the summer break.  With mastery tests in 3rd grade, this was the obvious choice for a pilot program.

Did it make a difference?  The report is attached so you can read for yourself!  It’s pretty exciting what can happen in 18 days!  And if you think about your school year in 18-or-so day chunks, how much could get done?

Most exciting for me was the attitude changes of almost every child.  By the end of July, they were asking if they could come for another month!  Kudos to Allison Logan for creating an exceptional plan, and Rosmarie Marquez and Diane Bolarinho for their support.

Unanswered questions:  Will the gains remain through August?  Will they make a difference in Grade 3?  Will the district notice the findings and plan a larger sample for next summer?  Let’s hope the answers are yes, yes and yes!  Stay tuned to find out!

Speak and Let Speak

Total Learning provides learning strategies that foster positive verbal interaction.

Total Learning provides learning strategies that foster positive verbal interaction.

Young children and classrooms are often judged by how quiet they are. And yet, study after study shows that adult-child and child-child spoken interaction is a key ingredient for successful learners. Total Learning lessons and studios are designed to foster this verbal interaction through speaking, listening, reading, writing and thinking. Whether in whole group of small group experiences, Total Learning classrooms are places where all voices are welcome and respected.
This topic is part of a larger conversation on literacy and linguistic development that will be explored in upcoming blog entries. To get started, read the information in the attached article, and then send your thoughts! Are you comfortable with this idea, in general? What do you do in your classroom to foster dialogue (speaking and careful listening)?
Language-Gap Study

Studio Adaptation for ELL Students


What if the children can’t read the cards in the messenger bag? Adapt the materials to a level where the children will have success, then bring them along step by step.

Jessica from Dearborn, Michigan is an enthusiastic and smart young music teacher. She started introducing the studio with the Messenger Game, only to realize that the children didn’t know what their own names looked like in print, or how to read the names of their classmates. Many came to school speaking only Arabic, with no Pre-K to jumpstart learning the basics.

She is going to replace the name cards with photos of the children, and a space below those pictures, so that each week she can add something new. In sequence, she’ll add (1) the first letter of the child’s name, (2) the child’s complete name, and then create new cards without the pictures – just the text.
What a huge help this will be to the children and classroom teachers. And how clever of Jessica to develop and adaptation of the studio to meet the children at their skill level!
Have you made adaptations to studios? Tell us about them by replying to this blog, or starting a new topic in “Join the Discussion.”

Photo above:  Jessica and Cathy Prowse are pictured during a videochat on Late Start Wednesday.  Look at how many teachers are on the chat from their classrooms!  More from this conversation to come.