How is school with new calendar doing?

Published 9:21 am Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Carrie Whiteaker, a first-grader at Sumner Elementary, tries to squeeze cheese onto a sandwich during the Constellations program Tuesday. -- Eric Johnson/Albert Lea Tribune

AUSTIN — Omar Aguilar is ready for school.

The Sumner Elementary School fourth-grader is spending part of his three-week intercession break getting extra practice in things like addition, subtraction, division and multiplication — things he already knows, but needs a little help on.

“It’s getting us prepared for fifth grade,” Aguilar said.

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Aguilar and about 60 students are spending two weeks of the intercession break catching up on their work as part of Sumner’s plan to boost student learning through its new 45/15 calendar.

That means 45 on and 15 off, plus a month and half away in the summer. It’s not fully year-round.

“It’s another way to connect with students,” said Tina Strauss, Sumner physical education teacher. Strauss and fellow teachers Jennifer Lloyd and Enrique Camarena-Corzo put on Sumner’s Constellations program Tuesday afternoon. Sumner staff are offering optional afternoon activities so students have something to do while they’re on vacation.

That means about 45 students learned how to make sandwiches, practiced juggling and played a little soccer Tuesday. While Strauss had students juggling (which studies show helps students’ learning development), Lloyd taught students how to make pumpkin sandwiches and brought in her mother to talk about life on a farm.

“It’s a pretty good turnout,” Lloyd said.

Camarena-Corzo led students in soccer drills, making sure students are active after some of them finished studying. He loves the new schedule as it allows students to process the things they learn and gives everyone a little downtime before continuing the school year.

“When (students) come back, they’re excited to learn,” Camarena-Corzo said. “At the same time, they don’t lose anything academically.”