Our First Summer School Launch
Week 2 Day 1 – Evidence-Based Strategies at Work
We are just starting our second week, and our students have been hard at work! Not only have they been participating in engaging and thought-provoking lessons with our incredible teachers, they have been working on their own as well.
NSSI has given our students access to a variety of self-directed learning platforms. One of these platforms is DreamBox. DreamBox provides students individualized lessons and is proven to increase math performance. The majority of our students have not used DreamBox before, as it is not commonly used in Nevada schools. We are excited to have our students try out this remarkable platform, and to see the growth they make along the way..
DreamBox is an adaptive program that automatically adjusts to the student’s level based on the responses from the student. Dreambox has won over 40 industry awards, and received a STRONG rating from the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Research and Reform in Education.
In the 2016 Center for Education Policy Research (CEPR) at Harvard University study on Dreambox found that the amount of time a student spent on DreamBox had a net positive impact on their reading attainment as measured by NWEA-MAP scores. CEPR measured how students in multiple school districts used DreamBox both in and out of the classroom, as well as using data from NWEA MAP results in order to measure the impact of using DreamBox.
In a second case study, elementary school students in Louisville, Kentucky also experienced significant gains after using DreamBox for one year.
Our students are asked to work independently on DreamBox after they have finished their school schedule for the day. As of July 5th, even though not all of our students have logged in yet, our students who have logged in have already completed 130 hours and 820 lessons on DreamBox, with a 4% average growth per student. If our students are already growing 4% in week 1, we can’t wait to see where they will be after 5 weeks with this program.
NSSI has also given our students access to Lexia. Lexia is another adaptive program that allows students to work independently to develop critical reading and language skills. Like DreamBox, Lexia is a platform that the majority of our students have never used before.
Lexia’s Core5 Reading and PowerUp Literacy, two programs our NSSI students are using, has garnered numerous industry awards, including EdTech Digest’s EdTech Awards finalist status in multiple categories in 2019 and 2020, and the International Society for Technology in Education’s (ISTE) 2019 Best in Show award.
Paul Marcaruso, Shani Wilkes, Sarah Franzén, and Rachel Schechter published the results of a three-year longitudinal study in 2019 that followed students in kindergarten through second grade while using Lexia Core5 Reading. The study found that over 90% of the students that entered kindergarten scoring below average on their standardized tests ended up scoring average or better on their second grade standardized tests.
Additional case studies replicated similar findings, including research in Macon County, Tennessee where students showed significant improvements, including in grade-level proficiency, after using Lexia for just one year.
Our Nevada students are asked to spend 20 minutes outside of class each day working on Lexia. Of our students who have begun work in Lexia, 46% overall started work below grade level proficiency. Among our fourth-grade students working in Lexia, 67% working began our program below grade level, an indicator that points to why we see such value in this project.
We look forward to continuing to monitor our students’ progress in DreamBox and Lexia. We will be sharing the progress with you as we move forward in the program.
We hope you’re having as much fun learning about the NSSI summer program as we are! We appreciate the relationships we are building with these remarkable students and their outstanding families, and of course, we value our teachers and admire their determination.
Check back often for continued updates!
Week 1, Day 5 – Ms. Kylie Gempler
Our blog post today is from one of our very own NSSI Partner Teachers, Ms. Kylie Gempler. Ms. Gempler teaches our two 5th grade ELA classes, teaching students from 29 different schools from Nevada. Ms. Gempler is a high school ELA teacher at Somerset Sky Pointe and an Adjunct English Professor at CSN. Take a look at what Ms. Gempler had to say about her first week at NSSI.
Online learning has become the new norm of our everyday life due to COVID-19. I have seen firsthand how students have fallen behind on essential skills because of this worldwide pandemic. It has definitely been a challenge for both my students and myself. However NSSI has built a great summer program that helps fill in these gaps in an innovative way.
I can say this first week of ELA instruction has been beneficial to not only myself, but these new students! I found it quite surreal teaching students I have never met in person (they probably thought the same about myself). This is a new learning curve for all involved so it made me happy to see students WANTING to learn during the summer! Students were eager to engage and participate with a teacher and peers they had never met before.
Some challenges that arose this week were undoubtedly…technology. Being away from the classroom means technology is a MUST! Students had difficulty knowing how to work Zoom and Google Classroom. However, students were quick to learn and by Thursday- became technological mavens.
Some positives from the program are the nationwide togetherness NSSI has incorporated. It is great to see teachers from all over the country come together to discuss ways to assess student learning, increase student engagement, and help fill in learning gaps. It is great to hear discourse from like minded teachers from all over the country who want to help students thrive! When educators come together on a national level, it creates a type of power and positive change. As educators, we want and believe that we can help ALL types of students from ALL around the country thrive and not fall behind.
Overall, I believe students are eager and excited for this summer program.I think this program gives students the ability to either regain or learn critical foundational skills needed for reading and writing. I have never experienced teaching like this. I believe this experience has taught me as an educator that nothing is ever certain, but to always be prepared and willing to go above and beyond for our students. It is definitely a privilege to be a part of something that is making real change in the way in which students access education.
Want to know more about Ms. Gempler?
My name is Kylie Gempler and I am an English teacher who has taught for a little over three years. I have taught ELA for grades 5th, 9th, 10th, and at the collegiate level. I was born and raised in a quaint Northern California town near Yosemite. I attended college at Southern Oregon University where I received my Bachelor of Arts in English and Writing with an emphasis in Literary Studies. After my undergraduate studies, I decided to move to Las Vegas because of the teacher shortage and to also enroll at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas to obtain a Masters of Education in Curriculum and Instruction: Secondary English Education. My favorite hobbies are reading, hiking, being in nature, and traveling around the world. My main objective and goal for teaching is to expand the minds of the youth through the power of language, reading, and writing through the process of critical thinking, cultural diversity, and creativity.
Week 1, Day 1
The day we are all waiting for finally arrived! Today was our first day of class for our NSSI summer school students.
We are so appreciative of our families that signed up for this program. Their children eagerly logged in today, spent a little time meeting their teachers, and then they dived right in and got to work.
In ELA, students began studying their novels, with grades 3 and 4 reading One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia and grades 5 through 7 reading The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani. They will read these novels together as a class through this 5 week course, as well as focusing in on close readings from news articles and other sources.
Our students used word problems in math to discuss equations, and different strategies for solving them. They will continue to work closely with their teachers to discover different problem solving strategies and strengthen the ones they are already familiar with..
As students logged into their student directed learning platforms for their first time, it was striking to us and our team of educators that this is the first time they have gotten the chance to work with high-quality learning platforms like Lexia, Dreambox, Newsela, and Sora.
Our students are asked to work independently in Dreambox daily, as well as in Lexia or Newsela (based on teacher recommendations).
There were a few bumps to smooth out today, but everyone (teachers, students, and families) handled those with flexibility and grace.
Finally, a huge shout out to our 9 wonderful teachers who have willingly jumped in and taken part in a program that is being built as we go. We appreciate all of them, and their unique strengths that they bring to our program.
Professional Development Week – Day 2 – June 23rd
Our hardworking team of local partner teachers are in day two of dedicated professional development with the National Summer School Initiative (NSSI) team, with classes themselves less than a week away. The feedback is coming in, and our teachers are thrilled with what they are learning from their national master teachers.
At Nevada Action for School Options, we have been gearing up for this week for the past month. Our 231 enrolled students from across the state, and 9 spectacular teachers, are about to embark on our first-ever summer school program. Schedules for each student (and teacher) have been finalized, registrations completed and confirmed, necessary information shared by email.
For our students, from 62 traditional district schools, public charter schools, and private schools statewide, summer school will start next week. This week, our teachers are preparing with some of the nation’s top master teachers and curriculum designers. We couldn’t be more excited to hear what our teachers are learning about. As we have dropped into different virtual training sessions, it has been inspiring to see our teachers, engaging and participating with a cohort of teachers from across the nation.
We want to share this experience with you. We will be updating this blog post often throughout the entire summer school experience.
You’ll get to meet and hear from our teachers, what they think about the program, how they are interacting with their students, and what exciting projects they have coming up in their lives. We are pretty certain that you will come to like and appreciate them as much as we do.
You’ll also get to find out what the students are learning about, how they are enjoying the experience, and what their parents think about the program.
We hope you find this NSSI experience as interesting and exciting as we do. If you have any questions that you would like to see answered on our blog, email Ashley Campbell at email@example.com.