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What I learned at intersession: Day 1

McGavock students work on business plans with the Entrepreneur Center. As soon as the students got settled at McGavock High School, the sky opened up. It was a real downpour, complete with hail and heavy lightning. But inside I heard sighs of relief from educators.

“At least it waited until after the students got here.”

McGavock hosted ten intersession programs today, covering everything from end-of-course exam prep to catch up work and law camp. I sat in on two: Gaylord Leadership Camp and developing a business pitch with the Entrepreneur Center.

At 8:30 in the morning, students in Leadership Camp were already rapt and engaged. Advertisements and album covers were on the projector demonstrating the media’s influence on young people. Students looked for coded messages and symbols in the images, explained how they could drive people to action, and discussed the negative influence they could have.

Up in Melinda Brown’s business classroom, eight students sat with John Murdock from the Entrepreneur Center, listing off their business ideas.

“What problem does this solve?”

“What are you offering that’s different from all the other options out there?”

“Who is this for?”

These ideas will be developed and perfected over the next four days to prepare for presentation in front of staff from the Entrepreneur Center. They were already bursting with ideas and also happy to be at school during what would otherwise be vacation time.

This kind of activity – with this kind of professional mentor – might not be part of their normal classroom experience. It’s a chance to enrich their regular instruction and a chance for Ms. Brown to extend what she teaches in her business class.

Principal Robbin Wall said he expects 3-400 students to take part in intersession at McGavock this semester. He’s always a fan of more time in the classroom.

A short (and rainy) drive later I was at McGavock Elementary to see another facet of intersession: targeted remediation. Principal Lance Forman was finishing up snack time before students settled back in for small group instruction.

He had just 37 students in school that day (out of 45 planned for), but all were there for a reason. Most were identified through early assessments as needing extra attention in key academic skills. With seven teachers on hand that day, students were split into very small groups for very targeted instruction. They got the attention they need in the specific areas where they need it most.

Mr. Forman praised the intersession set up this year. When he called asking for help providing transportation, he got it. He and the district intersession team worked together to make sure the students who needed it most could get to school.

In the library, young students were online, taking interactive reading lessons with teachers coaching closely over their shoulders. The results of their lessons will be analyzed at the end of every day during intersession to see where progress is being made and where they might still be struggling. It’s an impressive use of data and an even more impressive use of this precious time these students have in school.

It wasn’t a pretty day, but thankfully the rain didn’t keep students away. Intersession rolls on.