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Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools: Digital summer: Online tools sharpen CMS students' math and reading skills

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Posted July 29, 2015

Most Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools students are out of school. But the learning doesn't have to end when class does - and for many students, it hasn't ended. CMS students can participate in the district's Summer Learning Blitz​, which allows students to enrich math skills, expand reading levels and explore new places using free digital tools. These include Raz-Kids, Compass Learning, Dreambox and Discovery Education and can be accessed until Aug. 14.

"Students use the tools throughout the school year, s​o they're familiar with them and the tools are accessible on most devices," said Donna Jessup, CMS instructional technology director. "CMS has subscriptions so there is no added cost for access during the summer."

Students can access the digital tools anywhere, any time.

"The tools are very accessible and user-friendly," said Joyce Mace, mother of a rising third-grader at Shamrock Gardens Elementary. "The curriculum is already picked out for my son's level and age group. I get communications back from some of the programs, which helps me know what he needs to work on."

Westerly Hills Academy and Shamrock Gardens are two schools that have included the Summer Learning Blitz tools in summer programs.

First Presbyterian Church has partnered with Westerly Hills to provide its students with the Building Educated Leaders for Life (BELL) summer program at the church site. BELL focuses on literacy and other subjects to help students get ready for the new school year. They have access to various materials and iPads. The digital tools are used at stations for independent or group work.

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"Raz-Kids is my favorite because I love to read," said Kikyo Harper, a rising third-​grader at Westerly Hills. "My favorite books in Raz-Kids are Deep in the Ocean and Plant Defenses because I want to be a scientist."

Kikyo said when she finishes reading a book, there is a quiz with five to 10 questions to make sure she understood what she was reading. She also uses Raz-Kids at home.

"During the summer months, many children lack quality learning experiences. BELL helps students continue to learn in a camp-like environment," said Danyeal Morrison, a Westerly Hills teacher. "Students enjoy electronics, so adding these apps support what we are doing."

The apps are also a big hit at Shamrock Gardens where students are offered tutoring every Wednesday.

"Students can come in, check out library books and stay to work on literacy and math skills," said Cora Polsgrove, a Shamrock Gardens teacher. "They love when it's time to get on the computers to go onto the Summer Learning Blitz page. Dreambox seems to be a favorite."

Miley Canup enjoys math and likes to solve problems.

"Dreambox is great! My character gets to go on all types of adventures. When I solve the math problems, I earn coins and get to use them in the game's arcade," she said.

There's another incentive, too: For every hour students spend on Compass Learning, Raz-Kids and Dreambox, their names will be entered into a drawing. The more time they spend using these tools, the more times their names will be entered to win prizes. To access Summer Learning Blitz, click here. ​

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