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Drexel's Literacy Camp Helps Children Improve Reading and Writing Skills

Students apply skills to help kids at 3-week camp

Drexel Literacy Camp 2022

November 18, 2022

School of Education undergraduate and graduate students teamed up this past summer to help children from across Philadelphia improve their literacy and writing skills through Drexel’s Literacy Camp. “I love the fact that we are helping students that may be struggling with reading and writing and help them have a more positive outlook,” said Erica Martinez, a BS in Elementary Education student focusing on grades prek-4 who served this past summer as the site director.

A total of 16 children going into grades 2-5 attended the 3-week camp. Half the children live in the Drexel-supported West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood with the other half coming from other parts of the city.

What makes the camp especially unique is that it was run entirely by School of Education students applied the lessons from their coursework directly to the activities in the camp. Each day began with the campers coming together for a morning meeting followed by 30 minutes of reading aloud. The camp invited guests to come and read including children’s authors. During one of the days, School of Education alumna and author Hallee Adelman visited the camp to read to the kids.

After reading aloud, students broke out into four stations focused on a different reading and writing topic. Each station was designed and ran by a School of Education graduate student in the Reading Specialist certification program. The students followed the Danielson framework in organizing their stations, a requirement for certification from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. They were observed by their School of Education professors who evaluated and provided feedback on their activities. The topics for the four stations included word study, writing, reading, and phonics. Claire Mentry, a graduate student in the Reading Specialist program said the camp is a culmination of her coursework. “It’s fun getting to know the kids. I spent a couple days getting to know them and getting a baseline on what their needs are,” Mentry said. Metry designed instruction and activities around the needs of each individual student to maximize their learning outcomes.

During breaks, School of Education undergraduate students created and ran fun activities outside in the greenspace next to Drexel’s Dornsife Center for Neighborhood Partnerships. Games like “red light, green light,” “hot potato,” and others helped the kids to unplug and recharge.

The students also kept parents informed of their child’s activities through weekly newsletters. The literacy camp is funded through a grant by the West Philadelphia Promise Neighborhood. Dr. Vera Lee, a clinical professor for the School of Education, said families really appreciated the students’ work. “We just want to be a resource to families here in the Promise Neighborhood,” she said.