During Scarlett’s summer school program this year, middle school students and UM interns had an opportunity to work and learn from each other. Serving approximately 60 students in grades 6-8, the program focused on strengthening students’ reading and math skills. UM interns spent three days a week in language arts and math classrooms working with individuals and small groups of students. This was the first time that UM’s Secondary MAC (Master of Arts with Certification, http://www.soe.umich.edu/academics/masters_programs/secmac/) program was involved in Scarlett’s summer school.
There were several unique features to the summer partnership, none the least of which was the number of interns working at Scarlett – almost 50. This enabled students to have more individual attention and instruction than is normally feasible. Another key element was how Scarlett teachers and UM instructors worked together to align their curriculums and courses to support both Scarlett students’ and UM interns’ learning. For example, Scarlett language arts teachers utilized some of the concepts and materials from the Big History Project (http://www.bighistoryproject.com/), led by UM instructor Bob Bain, in their classes, and UM instructors teaching a disciplinary literacy course ensured that course assignments aligned with the curriculum and work occurring in the middle school classrooms. An additional important element of the partnership was that the interns were also taking education courses while working in the summer program. The courses supported and enhanced the interns’ understanding of teaching, while their observations and teaching experiences in the middle school classrooms made concrete the ideas they read about in their coursework.
Both Scarlett students and UM interns seemed to benefit from their work together, as they noted on their end-of-term evaluations. For instance, several Scarlett students commented on how the interns were always quick to help and provide additional explanations, with one student expressing that the intern in her classroom had made her “think out of the box.” The following is a representative comment from an intern: “It was wonderful to see a veteran teacher at work. My mentor was AMAZING, the way he talked to students and interns as separate in some cases and together in others was awesome. He did such a good job creating a community not only with and among the students but also with the interns and I think it was a really special experience that I will draw on in the future.”
Planning for next summer’s program is already underway.