It was an unusually hot June day with near record-breaking temperatures in Nashville, but that didn’t curb the enthusiasm of a group of about 80 students from J.E. Moss Elementary School who visited the Lipscomb campus Friday, June 15, to celebrate reading.
The students were on a field trip as part of the Lipscomb University College of Education’s summer-long Camp Explore 3.0 at J.E. Moss Elementary School, an urban Title 1 school in Nashville. It is one of 350 summer literacy camps funded by a $30 million grant from the State Department of Human Services. J.E. Moss Elementary School is one of the larger elementary schools in the Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools district. Almost all of the student body are economically disadvantaged and more than half are English Language Learners.
The grant is part of the state’s Read to be Ready campaign, launched in 2016 to boost the lagging literacy rates by improving third-grade reading proficiency to 75 percent by 2025. Camp Explore is strategically designed to support and teach young English Language Learners, rising first- through third-graders in English dominant classrooms, and their families.
During the camp, students are taught to read strategically and write and respond to narrative, global and informational texts through interactive read-alouds, guided reading, mini-writing workshops, music, art, dramatic arts, interactive games and literacy integrated into science and technology.
The field trip gave students an opportunity to take their learning on the road as they travelled to the Lipscomb campus for a day filled with activities that included meeting author, Jessica Young, author of “Spy Guy: The Not-So-Secret Agent” and “Haggis and Tank Unleashed: Digging for Dinos;” participating in a drama presentation about literacy featuring Beki Baker, chair of the Lipscomb University Department of Theatre, and Nat McIntyre, assistant director of theatre; putting on a puppet show with Justine Bruyere, puppeteer and education professor; and visiting the Parnassus Bookmobile to select two free books to take home.
“Literacy is such an important skill that can open doors for students. When children increase reading and comprehension skills, each academic area is positively affected,” said Jeanne Fain, associate professor of education and lead faculty for Lipscomb’s English Language Learner program, who wrote the grant for Camp Explore and coordinates the camp activities.
“Being able to encourage literacy in young people and their families and to equip teachers with the tools and strategies needed to be successful in the classroom is one way the resources and expertise in Lipscomb’s College of Education can serve the community. And I also think it’s very important for these students to visit a college campus so they can see themselves in this setting … seeing that they, too, can do this.”
Students said they enjoyed a fun day celebrating reading.
“My favorite thing is doing the stories,” said Herrera, 7.
“I love reading, because it teaches me how to read,” said Ryleigh, 7.
“I like fiction and non-fiction. Fiction is funny and interesting,” said Kimberly, 7.
“I like reading because you can learn new words,” said James, 8.
Tseyon, 8, said reading “makes me happy.”
G’Monta, 8, said he likes reading “because it makes me smart.”
The state’s Read to be Ready Summer Grants fund instructional programs that provide rich, authentic literacy opportunities to students entering first, second and/or third grade who are not yet proficient in reading and writing skills and who live in low-income areas, including those in rural Tennessee. The goal is to develop students’ love for reading and writing over the summer months by providing them with access to a multitude of high-quality, high-interest texts and literacy experiences, said Fain.
This is the third year for Lipscomb’s College of Education to offer the Read to Be Ready camp.
Want to know more about Lipscomb’s College of Education? Visit education.lipscomb.edu.