This virtual summer program takes aim at education inequity and the 'COVID slide' - Technical.ly Delaware

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May 19, 2020 2:31 pm

This virtual summer program takes aim at education inequity and the ‘COVID slide’

Community Education Building, SummerCollab and STRIVE prepare for a summer of social distancing.
SummerCollab middle schoolers in Sussex County built boats in 2017.

SummerCollab middle schoolers in Sussex County built boats in 2017.

(Courtesty photo)

With summer nearly here and social distance guidelines still expected to remain in place even as Delaware starts to phase into opening the economy, many parents are realizing that their kids’ usual programs are not going to be accessible.

For under-resourced families, that means the education equity gap could grow wider (something educators are calling the “COVID slide”), even with the efforts of local businesses and organizations such as NerdIT NOW and WhyFly helping to ensure that students have devices and access to broadband.

Ordinarily, SummerCollab offers on-site programs, including Tyler’s Camp, especially designed for Delaware middle schoolers who are at risk of falling behind in the summer — and they have helped to lessen the gap in many cases, through project-based learning, arts programs and STEM classes, all tuition-free.

SummerCollab has joined with STRIVE, another nonprofit that focuses on building leadership skills through athletics, and the Community Education Building (CEB) to develop a learning system that ensures middle and high school youth can engage in compelling and productive online and offline experiences this summer. This online learning system, called WAVE, was designed to foster student connection, reflection, choice and engagement.

The system is currently in its pilot phase, with a beta version recently launched at Great Oaks Charter School at the CEB.

WAVE uses “Summer Learning Guides,” aka experts, educators and artists who teach live courses to small groups. Live courses will be offered to students between 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a platform licensed from Teacheable. Daily schedules include both a morning meeting and afternoon debrief, and are curated based on the child’s unique availability and interests.

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Summer Learning Guides are mentors who do personalized content curation for students.

“We know students are not simply going to log in to a computer to watch a bunch of prerecorded content,” said Catherine Lindroth, founder and board chair of SummerCollab. “And they are not going to willingly put themselves on Zoom for three to six hours for summer school. If we want to meaningfully engage youth this summer — and in particular teens — to push back against the ‘COVID slide,’ we need to foster human connection, community, and choice on an unprecedented level.”

Courses offered this summer include:

  • Eagle Flight, which introduces students to aviation and aerospace
  • History of Me by MC Dylekt, which uses hip-hop pedagogy to explore personal identities and histories
  • Building your Business by Pocketchange, which promotes a new relationship with money and financial decision-making
  • STRIVE — How You Lead Matters, which promotes social emotional learning and character driven leadership
  • Instructors from Rodney Street Tennis engaging youth in art and fitness yoga

“The students have all really enjoyed the ability to create their own learning experience,” said Erin Sweet, a GO Tutor corps member helping to pilot the guide program. “They feel in control of their learning with the flexible schedule.”

The pilot will be made available to middle and high school students through community centers and schools across the state, as well as through online channels marketing the platform directly to parents.

WAVE is currently seeking artists, coaches, teachers and summer camp counselors with interest in offering sports, arts, dance, music, theater, coding, storytelling or poetry programming. If you’re interested, fill out this contact form.

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