Camp Ready To Read: County schools promoting literacy skills through summer program

Published 3:23 pm Monday, June 4, 2018

A small group of Carter County students is taking part in a pilot program designed to help them hone their literacy skills this summer.

Read To Be Ready Camp kicked off on Monday morning with 25 students who will be in the 3rd Grade next year. The Camp runs through June 28 with students attending the program Monday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. each day.

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The Carter County School System received a grant from the state to launch the camp to help children improve their literacy skills. The camp is part of the system’s initiative to have every student reading at or above level by the time they complete the 3rd Grade.

“A lot of what we’re trying to do with this Camp is to increase their enjoyment of reading,” said Larissa Trivette, one of the school system’s educators involved in the project.

Throughout the course of the Camp, the students will be working from 12 anchor texts that go along with each week’s theme. Each child will receive a copy of those 12 books along with their choice of 16 additional books from a library of on-level reading material.

“We’ve got a wide variety,” said Shonna Weddle, who has been Trivette’s partner in developing the program. “We have fiction and non-fiction books. We’ve even got some poetry books.”

“There has to be something here that will peak their interest in reading,” she added.

At the conclusion of the camp, the children will have received at least 28 free books to take home with them.

As part of the camp, the children work in small groups of five students to a teacher. The students rotate through different activities with different teachers every 45 minutes, according to Weddle.

The students work on their literacy skills through interactive read aloud, a writer’s workshop, shared reading, art, and even Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) activities.

Each week of the program will also have a different theme to help spark an interest to read.

“It’s all about our heritage and history of the area this week,” Trivette said, adding the theme is “Think Like A Historian.”

The remaining themes are “Think Like An Artist,” “Think Like A Scientist,” and “Think Outside The Box.”

In addition to activities in the classrooms, the children will get to take their reading skills out into the community for a series of educational field trips. The students will be visiting local historical sites like Rocky Mount as well as locations such as Bays Mountain Park and the Elizabethton/Carter County Public Library.

“We have a field trip planned each week,” Trivette said.

For the last week of Camp, the teachers have a special treat in store for the students.

“Our last week we are ending with a big to-do with field trips,” Weddle said. “We are going to the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge and the Hatfields & McCoys Show.”

“All of these field trips are paid for through the Camp, so they don’t cost the children anything to go,” she added.

In addition to receiving the grant funding from the state, both Trivette and Weddle said the program has received tremendous support from the school system and the local community.

The school system’s Nutrition Program has donated food and personnel to provide the students with free breakfast and lunch for each day of the program. Several schools in the county collected recyclable materials for the students to use in STEM activities. Re/Max Checkmate donated special Read To Be Ready Camp t-shirts for each student. Several local organizations made financial contributions to support the Camp and the field trips for students including Citizens Bank, Happy Valley Credit Union, BNR Construction, and the Woman’s Civic Club of Elizabethton.