“Learning by Doing” – Summer Acculturation Camp (LBD)

“Learning by Doing” – Summer Acculturation Camp (LBD)

Children identified by their FPS teachers as needing extra assistance to read, write and/or speak English are referred to “Learning by Doing” (LBD) summer acculturation camp. Since the inception of LBD in 2007, the program has been held in July each year. EL students also attend June summer school, but LBD is considered a “camp”. 
Students are transported by a special bus route utilizing the school district’s transportation contract with Valley Bus. The school district does not provide busing for summer activities for traditional students. Ten bus stops were provided to get the students to the site. It usually took 35 minutes to bring the students to LBD in the morning, and 45 minutes to return them to home. Buses are also scheduled for field trips. A snack is served each day. 
According to Fargo Public Schools’ spring ACCESS (language testing) scores, over 90% of the qualified ELL students in elementary classes (K-5) had language skills from Level I to Level III. Level I is defined as “entering”; Level II is described as “beginning”; and, Level III is described as “developing”. The elementary program conducts pre/post testing to establish language and reading levels. This summer, one student told me that “he learns better at summer school because we get to do things.” Summer programs also allow the brand new kids the chance to learn school routines in a smaller setting before they start school in the fall. They learn about appropriate bus behavior, how to check out books at the library, school rules, basic commands, school items, etc. Being exposed to these things makes starting school for the first time in the fall a little easier and less overwhelming for them. Summer school programs do a great job of providing our EL students with different experiences so they have the background knowledge to help them be more successful during the school year.  
Each year, the EL teachers choose a theme. It might be sports, or animals, or community.  This past summer students went to Rheault Farms’ Community Day, ATA Martial Arts, TNT Fitness and bowling. All of these events got our kids into parts of the community that they would not normally have the chance to visit. It also gave them a chance to practice their English skills in a non-academic setting or real world experience. We also had a librarian visit, a zookeeper visit, an NDSU professor came to work with some of our students on computers and typing skills, and a nutritionist taught health/fitness and hygiene, providing background information for things that they will hear/learn about in the regular classroom, and it introduced new vocabulary.  
The basic framework for the half-day program is: (1) students learn about the subject through presentations; (2) students experience a “real life” activity, e.g. visit a farm; and finally, (3) students write about the experience. The relationships built at LBD Summer Camp are unique. The children experience trusting relationships with caring adults, even though they have limited communications abilities. The children are able to learn in a rich environment of small groups, experiential learning and skill-building.
Traditional students should learn approximately 1,000 new words (meanings) each year. LEP students must learn at this pace, too. The goal is to have the students learn 500 new words over the summer.” “Learning by Doing” is positioned as an acculturation camp, defined as “A process through which students can learn the cultural patterns of the country of immigration, including the language and cultural values, without relinquishing their own culture. Acculturation implies that the ELL student and his/her family may learn about the American culture while maintaining a native culture.”

North Dakota

Administering Organization:
Fargo Public Schools - District #1

Program Objectives:
To keep EL (refugee) students engaged in learning over the summer months through reading, writing and experiential activities so that they begin the new school year with improved reading/language arts ability and an expanded interest in learning more. To utilize existing community and school district resources wherever possible to expand the current summer program.  To provide age-appropriate activities for elementary students using: (1) common themes that appeal to all grade levels and (2) "power" learning targets developed by the district.  To provide structure for the summer months for EL children in the Fargo school district.  To practice English skills over the summer by integrating into existing community summer activities and putting practical experiences into context.

Groups Served by Program:
Thirty elementary students attended at least one day of camp. There were ten "no-shows". The average number of elementary students attending over the 15 day period was 22 students per day. There were 329 total student days, for an average of 10.28 students per day. Like the traditional school year, the assumption is made that the more students participate, the more they will learn, so attendance is a key part of the LBD strategy. Participation records indicated that students attended: 1-5 days 3 students (10%) 6-10 days 8 students (27%) 11-14 days 16 students (53%) 15 days (every day) 3 students (10%).

Program Funding:
Funding is secured through grants and district funds. In some years, the school district has collaborated with other community groups that focus on refugee services. Initially, the summer food program through ND-DPI was utilized for a meal. Later this was changed to a snack to save time.

Program Staffing and Training:
The July "camp" is staffed by certified EL teachers, counselors and social workers who are employed by the school district during the school year. The staff is given hours for planning prior to the start of LBD. Hours are dependent on funding. LBD is held at one of the Fargo school sites.

Program Outcomes:
The average 2012 ACCESS score for elementary students who had attended LBD in both 2012 and 2013, was 3.03 in 2012; and, 3.67 in 2013 (for the 17 students with comparable scores).  The average 2012 ACCESS score for middle school students who had attended LBD in both 2012 and 2013, was 2.82 in 2012; and, 3.27 in 2013 (for the 15 students with recorded ACCESS scores in both years).  There were 19 students who participated in LBD Camp in both 2012 and 2013 and who had comparable ACCESS scores on file: 16/18 students or 89% had improved ACCESS scores when the two years were compared; one student had a lower score; and, one showed no change. 

Additional Comments:
It would be useful to have more students complete the MAP and ACCESS assessments upon arrival, so that progress could be monitored more frequently. It should be noted that over the summer sometimes new refugee students arrive, but do not have either ACCESS (English language, reading and writing skills assessment) nor MAP (reading, math assessment) scores on file with the school district. Other reasons that students attending the summer "Learning by Doing" program may not have assessments on file, include: (1) students who are from West Fargo schools but have a Fargo address or vice versa; or, (2) students whose families are secondary refugees to Fargo and were originally placed in another community. 

Program Contact:
Connie L. Nelson 701.446.1079 nelsonc2@fargo.k12.nd.us

Program Dates:
 The initial program was launched in 2007, and will continue in 2018.

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