News / USA

Summer Arts Keep Students Learning

Teacher Gloria Pegram leads a summer school session at Bushman Elementary in Dallas, Texas. (VOA/B. Zeeble)
Teacher Gloria Pegram leads a summer school session at Bushman Elementary in Dallas, Texas. (VOA/B. Zeeble)
Bill Zeeble
DALLAS, Texas — June, July and August are vacation months for most American schoolchildren. But education research shows some young students pay a high price for that long summer break in the academic year. They forget so much of what they learned that by the time they start the next grade, they’re way behind. 
                    
Summer school

More than 400 students attend summer school Bushman Elementary in Dallas. Hundreds more are in other schools around the city, most are there to make up for poor grades during the regular school year.
 
There’s more going on in one third grade social studies class than students reading aloud about communities, which is today’s topic. The nine and 10 year olds here are also studying art.

Combining subjects, increasing learning

Visual Arts Instructor Ron Oliver works to combine the two subjects. "The kids that never get it - like the 30 percent that always struggle on testing - they thrive in this kind of atmosphere," he said. "Sometimes they just learn differently. Like I would. And, we give them a different twist on how to learn it."
 
So Oliver says in addition to reading about communities and markets, students draw community scenes. "And they love to be able to express themselves in picture form. I think that’s the important thing," he adds.
 
"When I was drawing, I was expressing my feelings, and showing what was happening," explains one student.  
 
Using art to reinforce retention

Teacher Gloria Pegram, who has taught elementary school for 15 years, says art reinforces memory.

"When they’re able to draw and express themselves in a creative manner, with core topics like this - even with math, we try to be creative with it - it helps their retention," she says. "They remember. They say, 'Oh, yes, I remember this because..' and they’ll go into what we were doing, hands-on, whatever activity we were doing, to help them understand it better, and to retain it." 
 
Pegram says students who don’t take part in summer enrichment classes often need to re-learn lessons when they return in the fall. That’s especially true of low-income students, who are less likely to vacation in interesting places, attend summer camps, or live near public libraries offering both books to read and special summer reading programs. 
 
Learning loss, without such interventions

"And for poor kids, the loss can be as much as three months of school learning that just disappears over the course of the summer," says Ed Pauly, director of research and evaluation at the Wallace Foundation.

The non-profit has invested $50 million to research summer programs that can prevent that learning loss. 
 
"That’s a very significant part of the achievement gap that separates kids from low-income communities from kids from more affluent communities," Pauly says.

He says one promising approach has been to incorporate art, as they do at Bushman Elementary.

"We need kids to master reading and math. Arts gets them excited about being there every day. And the arts use reading and math. The arts are a great way to tie together learning experiences," he says. 
 
That holds true, as well, during the regular school year. And that’s why Gloria Pegram says she’ll incorporate more creative elements into her elementary school classes this fall. 

"They’re still developing and they need more physical movement and activity so they can learn and still have fun. I don’t think anything’s wrong with learning and having fun at the same time," she said. "That’s my philosophy." 
 
While the Wallace Foundation studies what kind of programs work best, school systems across the United States are stepping up their summer offerings, not just to bridge the vacation gap but also to help struggling students make up for last year’s poor grades.

Nearly a third of New York state’s public school students are taking summer classes.  In Chicago, almost half of the city’s schoolkids are enrolled - trading traditional playtime for a summer of continued learning. 
 
 

You May Like

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid