Learning over break

Rogers U provides reading, math, enrichment education

T-R PHOTO BY ADAM SODDERS These Rogers University students are practicing their reading and writing skills by researching animals and creating a powerpoint presentation with information like habitat, food and predators.

Summer learning loss is a reality many school teachers must face when classes begin in the fall, and there are local programs trying continue education into the summer; one is Rogers University.

“Our theme at Rogers University is college,” said program coordinator Karina Hernández of Mid-Iowa Community Action.

She said this is the seventh year of Rogers U, and the program’s goal is to keep education going through part of the summer when kids are out of school, reducing summer learning loss. Another goal is to help students improve in areas they struggle with while getting them to believe post-secondary education is a possibility for them later in life.

“Some of them are in academics, others are in Lexia (Reading CORE 5),” Hernández said, referring to a literacy program used at Marshalltown Schools during the academic year.

Typing and research are skills students also practice at Rogers U, along with reading, writing and math. The program’s students are entering kindergarten to fourth grade in the fall.

Instructors, called “professors” at Rogers U, work with students in a more personalized manner than they could during the academic year. The ratio is about five or six students to one professor.

“We’re working on fluency and comprehension during reading,” said Rogers U reading and writing professor and Rogers Elementary second grade teacher Julie Underhill. “For writing, our students are working on a non-fiction animal research project and making their own book.”

She said students work in areas they struggle with, and that students get “more attention” and “better dialogue” during class time in the program.

Fellow reading and writing professor Mark Church, a Rogers K-4 counselor during the school year, said there are many benefits for Rogers U students.

“It provides enrichment for those who need it,” he said, adding the program reinforces learned information so students don’t lose it over the summer.

Students are divided into three groups at the beginning of the day based on their learning level, not necessarily their age group. They then work on academic activities until lunch and recess.

“Teachers make plans for the kids, and that’s how they’re divided into their own (learning) level,” Hernández said of preparation for the program. “They all have a personal goal that they need to meet by the end of Rogers University.”

A Rogers U report card is made and given to parents during fall conferences, and it tells them whether their student met their goal, or how close they came to doing so.

After morning academics are over, afternoon enrichment activities take place all five days of the week at Rogers U, including STEM activities with Iowa State University Marshall County Extension last week.

This week, one group of students is going to swimming lessons through Marshalltown Community College while a second group goes to the IVCCD Orpheum Theater Center, Grimes Farm and Conservation Center, and the Marshall County Courthouse, as well as gardening with Iowa State University Marshall County Extension.

The swimming group will do the aforementioned activities next week, and vice versa.

For the final week, Hernández said students will be able to meet Marshalltown police officers and firefighters, go to a horse ranch for horseback riding and will take home a fruit or vegetable from the gardens they worked on.

“[Students] get two meals, they come for breakfast, and then they come for lunch,” Hernández said. “We take advantage of the free lunch that the district provides, so we do not purchase the lunches.”

There are a few changes that came to Rogers U this year due to funding cuts.

“This is our first year that we’re doing four weeks instead of six weeks,” Hernández said, adding the number of students invited had to be cut to a max of 48 this year.

Previously, about 100 students were invited to participate.

“Sadly, there will be at least four weeks before they start school,” Hernández said.

Rogers U has partnered with Marshalltown Public Library again this year to try to continue combating summer learning loss and keep kids reading.

“They provide books for us throughout Rogers University, and hopefully they (students) continue going to the library and reading,” Hernández said.

Also ongoing is Pre-K Camp, an extension of Rogers U that invites Rogers Elementary neighborhood families to bring their student set to enter pre-k or kindergarten at the school in the fall. It acts as a kind of orientation program for the future students while providing a meal.

Another program running parallel to Rogers U is Munch and More, which provides reading opportunities while district children eat on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Rogers Elementary.

For more information on summer programs for Marshalltown Schools students, go to https://www.marshalltown.k12.ia.us