MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Spring break is around the corner for Memphis Shelby County Schools and that means time away from school for a lot of students, but not everyone.
MSCS is hosting their spring learning academy at many schools across the district in all grades so students can continue learning through the break.
K-8 students will get to go to classes like English, language arts, math, science, social studies and a few extracurriculars like physical education and music. High school students attending the learning academy will work through half-day ACT prep. No matter the age though, MSCS Senior Manager of Academic Support Stephanie McClain insists every student will be getting a more personalized education during the break.
“Because it’s open to 5,000 students, it’s a smaller amount,” McClain said. “We are able to give more small group instruction because not only do we hire teachers, we hire assistants as well and [they’re] able to help with that small group instruction.”
Not only are students learning in smaller groups with more focus from educators, but middle school teacher Elaine Hunt said they’re also getting hands on experience through projects and real world lessons.
“We do project-based activities, we do them in ELA and we also do them in math,” Hunt said. “Sometimes, as we go through our lessons we don’t have time to actually do one-on-one and in small groups like this, we get a chance to do one-on-one and it provides them the opportunity to get that personalized instruction that normally they may not get.”
Some of the lessons aimed at TCAP prep include showing students how to properly examine a passage for the most important information. One of the students favorite real-world math activities is looking into whether it’s more cost effective to buy their favorite snack in bulk, or individually.
“It’s giving the children the opportunity to master the skills that they have been struggling with,” Hunt said. “So that usually produces better confidence in just being in the classroom and being able to participate. They’re more eager to express themselves simply because we get the chance to just work with them one-on-one and we get the chance to just extend the learning process beyond the classroom for that particular day.”
While third grade reading retention has been the topic of discussion for months, teachers in the district stress the importance of all grades attending the learning academies because of the difference in curriculum from elementary to middle school and middle to high school. The district’s Curriculum and Instruction Department creates lesson plans for the students so they’re as prepared as possible for all state tests and the transition to new schools.
“They teach them strategies that they can use when reading a specific story, ‘this is how we would attack the story when reading,’ [a] strategy they can use on the story they’re working on in spring break learning academy, but they can also carry that back to school the next week,” McClain said.
While registration for the spring learning academy has closed, the district said they won’t turn away anyone bringing their student to the academy on Monday, March 13.