ESL Summer Camp, July 2012

Students Participate in the ESL Summer Tech Camp

            The district offered its first Summer Tech Camp for English language learners, a program made possible with monies from Title III funding (a federal grant used to improve education) and an Optimum Technology Grant. The two-week program was designed to give ESL students entering grades one through seven an opportunity to enhance their learning by building background knowledge, academic vocabulary and fluency on the unfamiliar topic of farming in New York. The camp also provided a platform for students to enhance their technology skills.


            The program began with a farm visit to the Cornell Cooperative Extension in Yaphank, giving students the firsthand experience of life on a farm. The participants employed technology such as iPads, digital cameras and Flip cameras to document the experience. Their photos were used throughout the camp to build vocabulary and develop fluency.

            Expanding upon this topic was author Alan K. Lewis, who paid a visit to Tooker Avenue Elementary School. Mr. Lewis, a retired educator, captivated students with a 50-minute session in which he shared his nonfiction memoir “I Grew Up on a Farm,” as well as a PowerPoint presentation and farm paraphernalia.

            The students were eager to share their ideas and demonstrate their newfound knowledge. “We are very pleased with the level of engagement and retention of these students,” said Director of Language Arts and Testing Carol Varsalona. “Integrating technology into the curriculum not only provides engaging learning opportunities for the English language learners, but also new pathways to literacy for them. The program is short, but focused and structured to build success.”