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Discovering NYS Lakes While Maintaining Reading and Math Levels in the Summer
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Raymond Labonte-Staroba from Mechanicville took his lake research seriously. His parents took him on a road trip to Long Lake, the lake he had been studying at the Extended School Year (ESY) program at the F. Donald Myers Education Center in Saratoga Springs from July 1 to August 11.
“It was cold,” said Raymond of his swimming experience in Long Lake.
Wearing his red Long Lake t-shirt, Raymond along with his teacher, Kim Ferguson, added more green clay to create mountains to a topographical map of Long Lake the students were creating.
Ms. Ferguson explained that in addition to creating the map, the grade 9-12 students in her class had researched Long Lake, found animals that were indigenous to the area and did a creative writing exercise describing what they’d do if they went to Long Lake on vacation.
The WSWHE BOCES Extended School Year (ESY) program serves students with disabilities who need a 12-month structured learning environment to prevent significant regression. Operating as a full-time day program for 30 days, ESY serves students ages three to 21. This summer, the Myers Center’s ESY program served 102 students in the BOCES Educating Autistic and Related Disorders Students or BEARS program, BEARS, middle school, Therapeutic Support Program, School to Work, and 12:1:2 elementary classrooms. The summer program serves those students who may not have a summer program at their home school or what is offered doesn’t match their needs. Dr. Shawn Hunziker, Principal of Special Programs at the Myers Center, said that last year students had so much fun studying the counties in New York State, they decided to stick with a New York State theme and chose lakes to research. He said, “Our teachers do a great job of integrating the lake studies into the academic curriculum.”
Luann Gabriel added, “We’re maintaining their reading and math levels during the summer in the ESY program.” Her class, which is comprised of students in 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th grades, researched Lake George. Delving deeper into the lake research, the students zeroed in on learning about owls. They wrote a report on the specific type of owl they had chosen, drew the owl, listened to the various sounds owls make, read aloud from an owl book, watched videos of owl activity, and watched the animated movie “Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole.” They even dissected owl pellets, which are masses of undigested parts of an owl’s food that it has regurgitated.
Tim Finn of Greenwich researched the Barn Owl and TJ Bulluck of Glens Falls researched the screech owl.
The 9th and 10th graders in Jolie O’Brien’s classroom had researched Racquet Lake and created Power Point presentations describing the history, the animals and activities available there.
“We still tie in the Common Core Standards,” noted Mrs. O’Brien. “Using text evidence and learning vocabulary words are just a few examples. The students liked searching for the vocabulary word that matched its definition on a certain page in the story.”
In addition, her students were reading Ben Mikaelsen’s book, “Touching Spirit Bear.” Using the metaphors and symbolism from the book, students creating totem poles and sun catchers.
“It’s different from other books,” said Tori Barker from Salem. “Sometimes you can solve a problem by being alone.”
“It has a good message,” Rhiannon Durkin of South Glens Falls, chimed in. “He learned from his mistakes and got better.”
Many of Mrs. O’Brien’s students also had the opportunity to volunteer to assist in other classrooms. “It was awesome,” Tori added.
Some fun activities were woven in with the academics in the ESY program, such as swimming at the Peerless Pool in Saratoga Springs once a week.
Click here to view a slideshow of photos.