About 1,500 students will attend summer school classes in Merced

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comJanuary 22, 2014 

Many things will be different about the Summer Academy for Academic Achievement to be offered by the Merced City School District in June.

The program will serve about 1,500 second- through seventh-grade students at three campuses. Students may be exposed to teaching through the new Common Core State Standards and could be using Chromebook tablet technology for the first time.

Annie Dossetti, the district’s assistant superintendent of educational services, said four times the number of students served last year will take part in this year’s program, which runs June 16 to July 18 at Burbank and Sheehy elementary schools and a middle school to be determined. Classes will run from 8 a.m. to noon.

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to solidify and expand their learning while acquiring the skills that will prepare them for college and careers,” said Elena Castro, director of curriculum and categorical compliance.

Board of Education members recently approved the $454,706 expense of running the summer school. It will involve three site principals, 50 teachers, three office managers, six application technicians and three part-time custodians.

“The combination of rigorous content and application of technology for learning is a ‘win-win’ for both the student and the teacher,” Castro said. She added that reading and math fluency skills are crucial in academic achievement, especially in the lower grades.

Daily practice of fluency skills during the summer months, when so many students lose learning, is essential to preparing students to more successfully grasp sophisticated concepts, according to Castro.

Dossetti said the summer academy will provide students with additional learning opportunities during the summer, as well as providing training for teachers in integrating technology into the classroom.

“The creative use of these technologies has the potential to engage our students and instill an excitement about learning as we prepare our students for college and career readiness,” Dossetti said.

Applications will be made available to families through their neighborhood school offices by the first week of February. Students will be chosen on a first-come, first-served basis, based on academic need.

“Students who would benefit from having more time to reinforce previously learned essential concepts, as well as fluency, in both reading and math are encouraged to apply,” Dossetti said.

With the support of the application technicians, classrooms will be equipped with enough Chromebooks to allow each student use of a device during the summer classes.

Teachers will use the Chromebooks for instruction and creation of projects and performance tasks for students, as well as access to reading and math fluency programs, Dossetti said.

Training in Common Core standards, Chromebook applications and cart use will be offered to teachers for a minimum of three days before summer classes begin. Chromebooks were purchased with state Common Core implementation funds.

Sun-Star staff writer Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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