Camp helps boost high school students’ literacy skills

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About 160 rising freshman and sophomores are spending two weeks of their summer participating in a Houston ISD camp at Challenge Early College High School designed to boost their reading and writing abilities.

“The purpose of the camp is to provide the students with literacy strategies that they can take back with them to their schools and to get them excited and engaged with the acts of reading and writing,” said Erica Harris of Carnegie Vanguard High School, the program’s curriculum writer and lead teacher.

The students take four classes a day at the camp, each themed around the young adult book Divergent by Veronica Roth. Each class focuses on a different area of literary development.

“They get to practice discussing texts as well as creative writing,” said Harris. “They write poetry, they write skits, and they get to learn how to look at current events and analyze what’s happening in their world by talking, writing, and thinking critically about it.”

“The camp is designed for students with a high potential for success,” Carnegie Vanguard HS Instructional Coordinator Melissa Matsu said. “At the end of the day, I would love students to come away from this program with a greater love for reading, and maybe continue to read more and feel like they spent eight days really learning some skills that will benefit them in high school.”

The students aren’t reading a traditional paperback or hardback book.

“One of the parts of the program is that every student has received a (Barnes and Noble) Nook,” Matsu said. “They take it home every day and read on it. After successful completion of the camp, they will be able to keep that Nook.”

The Nook will allow the students to read any book for free for up to an hour every day at any Barnes & Noble and will facilitate access to literature and learning. It should allow the students an opportunity to continue to develop the skills they are learning in the camp classes.

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