U of A Faculty Members Make Learning Fun at Summer Camps
September 11, 2017
Each summer, University of Arkansas faculty members spend many hours teaching a much younger crowd than usual. In the College of Education and Health Professions, faculty members put on a camp for children with autism, held both on campus and at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art; a science camp for English-language learners; a literacy camp that focused on reading for elementary students; and a writing camp for both elementary and middle school students.
In most cases, the faculty members use these camps, not only as a way to help area children fill summer hours with fun and learning, but also to give university education students practical experience teaching and leading activities.
Camp Connect sponsored by U of A Inclusive Educational and Clinical Programs pairs children with autism with children who do not have autism and with U of A students studying in the special education, applied behavior analysis and autism certificate programs. The July weeklong camp sessions, two on the Fayetteville campus and one at the museum in Bentonville, give the children with autism the opportunity to enjoy a typical camp experience.
The camp at the autism center on the Fayetteville campus had a summer fun theme with games, puzzles, reading, crafts, snacks and outdoor play including squirt guns and splash pools.
The Camp Connect week in partnership with Crystal Bridges focuses on learning about and creating art. The children spend time in the galleries, hearing from museum staff about particular pieces of art and discussing their impressions and feelings about the art. They work as groups and individually in the museum’s art studios on several projects, culminating in a puppet show with puppets they created, acting out stories they wrote in front of backdrops they made. They also created comics, travel journals and self-portraits.
Across both camp settings, each child is paired with a peer who provides opportunities to improve and practice social skills and experiences interacting with others.
Two assistant professors of special education, Suzanne Kucharczyk and Elizabeth Lorah, directed the museum camp and on-campus camps, respectively.
ESL Summer Science Camp
Students who speak English as a second language learned big words such as chlorophyll and complex processes such as photosynthesis while having fun at a summer science camp in June. It was a partnership between the U of A program in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and Bayyari Elementary School in Springdale.
U of A faculty members Felicia Lincoln, associate professor, and Tina Howlett, assistant professor, worked together to put the camp on with Lincoln and Donna Owen overseeing the 10 days of activities. Owen is a doctoral student who also teaches at the U of A and serves as the university’s liaison at Bayyari.
Five graduate students majoring in the programs of childhood education and TESOL worked with the kids as part of their summer course on second language methodologies.
The children learned about science, plants and language as they planted seeds and took field trips to the Fayetteville Farmers’ Market and the Botanical Garden of the Ozarks. They also spent time learning in the outdoor garden at the school.
Summer Literacy Camp
More than 30 U of A students taking a reading assessment and intervention course worked one-on-one with elementary students every morning for two weeks in July and August. They occupied five classrooms on the top floor of Peabody Hall, which had once been the elementary school library when the university operated a training school in the first part of the 20th century.
The U of A students conducted screenings at the beginning and end of the camp, designed an intervention and, at the end of camp, provided information to parents about their children’s reading improvement and future needs.
“We’ve seen quite a boost in reading levels,” said Linda Eilers, clinical associate professor who directed the camp presented by the University of Arkansas Clinic for Literacy. “The camp also helps prevent summer reading loss. We don’t expect huge gains but what we see is pretty good.”
The response from parents was so strong that another camp is planned for fall, on four Saturdays in September through December. The camp will culminate with a visit by children’s author Michael Shoulders. More information and online registration is available on the Department of Curriculum and Instruction website.
Young Writers Camp
Vicki Collet, assistant professor of childhood education, recruited teachers at elementary and middle schools in Prairie Grove, Rogers, Siloam Springs and Springdale to put on this two-week camp at their schools in June. It was sponsored by the Northwest Arkansas Writing Project with assistance from the Education Renewal Zone, both based in the College of Education and Health Professions.
Kids at Birch Kirksey Middle School in Rogers peppered local author Dallas Collet, who wrote Skunk Chronicles, with questions. They wanted to know about the writing process from generating ideas to getting published. Collet, who is Vicki Collet’s husband, told the students the two most important things to do if they want to be writers is to write and to read, and he described the revision process he uses that is modeled on horror writer Stephen King’s method.At Old Wire Road Elementary School in Rogers, Vicki Collet led children in several fun exercises to improve their writing. They drew maps to help them think of detail to put into their stories and pointed out “jazzy strategies” from Robert McClosky’s Time of Wonder such as alliteration, visual verbs, rhyming words and sensory detail that they could use to make their stories more interesting.