ESL camp focuses on literacy, improving reading

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 29, 2014

Rising first-, second- and third-grade students met at Knollwood Elementary School to work on their English, literacy and technology skills.
Parents of English as a second language students at all Rowan-Salisbury elementary schools were given the opportunity to send their children to ESL camp for a week. Roughly 70 children from Knollwood, China Grove, Hurley, Hanford Dole, Overton, Woodleaf and North Rowan elementary schools showed up each day.
Jerri Hunt, director of English as a second language programs, said this is the third year they’ve held the camp.
She said she hopes the camp will help the raise the students’ ACCESS test scores. ACCESS is the North Carolina standardized test that measures language acquisition for students with limited English proficiency.
“One of our gaps is writing — and also reading,” Hunt said.
This year, the curriculum works specifically with literacy.
“That’s the district focus,” she said.
Twice a day, the parents were invited to a session where they were taught about literacy strategies to help their children’s reading skills improve at home.
The parents at Wednesday’s morning session said they were excited to have a work session in their own language.
While many of them speak English, having the class in Spanish made it even more accessible.
The parents chose to send their kids to camp because they felt they needed the extra academic help, or they wanted them to keep up their reading skills throughout the summer
The students spent the week reading, writing, learning about vocabulary and punctuation, using computers and iPads, and taking part in other activities, such as the district’s STEM bus. They were also served lunch.
The camp was staffed by eight teachers, a parent liaison and a Title I liaison.
Leslie Foster, who usually teaches at Hurley Elementary School, said she enjoys teaching at the camp.
“They get to practice their learning and reading over the summer in a fun environment,” she said.
Foster has taught at ESL camp all three years it’s been in existence.
“I really enjoy my job as an ESL teacher,” she said. “I speak Spanish and I enjoy working with the Hispanic population.”
She added that camp is different, though. “It’s more relaxed.”