Ingram-Pye camp focuses on math

jmink@macon.comJune 18, 2014 

While many children are playing video games and watching cartoons, Linda Cotton is spending her summer working on multiplication problems.

And she wouldn’t have it any other way.

Linda, a rising fourth-grader at Ingram-Pye Elementary, loves math. Her favorite subject is science, but she likes the fact that “you can use math anywhere you go,” she said.

So, she was happy to attend the school’s summer math camp, which gives students about a month of intensive math instruction. It’s an effort to help students catch up and to give some students advanced math lessons over the summer.

“We had a lot of reading and English intervention” already, said Joanna Gittens-Summerow, the Title I education specialist for the district. “We needed more intervention for math ... and the CRCT scores indicated that.”

About 220 students registered for the camp, which runs from June 2 to June 30. Ingram-Pye qualified for the program because of its “priority school” status with the state, which means that its overall student achievement was low on recent state assessments.

At Ingram-Pye, officials wanted to focus on math. The camp generally is for students who have low test scores, and also do not speak English as their first language, have a disability or qualify for free or reduced-priced lunches. After those students are enrolled, the camp is then open to other students who might need or want extra math instruction.

“The purpose is to level the playing field for all students,” said Tracy Muff, site manager for the camp.

The camp is designed to help students catch up by giving them intense, individualized instruction. There are no more than 10 students per teacher, and each student has his or her own laptop or iPad.

The computers are programmed with math lessons that are tailored to each student’s specific needs. For example, one student might be working on advanced math problems, while another one is learning addition and subtraction.

The camp is almost as exciting for the teachers, such as Matthew Peters, as for the students. It’s not often that teachers get such individual time with their students, teachers said.

“It’s great,” Peters said. “It allows us to do what no other kids and no other programs can do.”

Peters has been working with a student, who was struggling when he first came to camp. Lately, though, the student is grasping concepts and completing assignments.

“When I see his face lighting up, when he understands, you can see him just bouncing in his chair,” Peters said. “It’s enjoyable for me.”

When students master a concept, they receive a certificate that is posted outside the classroom. At the end of the week, students who make achievements have their names drawn for prizes. It’s an extra incentive for students, such as Linda, who are spending their summers improving their math knowledge.

Linda, who wants to be president when she grows up, mostly enjoys learning multiplication and having one-on-one time with her teacher.

“I’m usually in a big classroom, and it’s better to me to be in a small classroom,” she said. “This camp is letting me learn more than I did in the third grade.”

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