SLP 2014 Update 5: Closing Opportunity Gaps

Recent research points to a growing “opportunity gap” that contributes to disparities in achievement between low-income students and their more affluent peers. In response, Boston Summer Learning Project sites deploy a unique mix of time, setting, and structure to provide students with new, engaging experiences. Across Greater Boston this summer, you’ll find students illustrating books at their local library, mastering the science of sailing in Boston Harbor, or heeding the advice of an adult mentor at their summer work placement. These experiences look different at each site – depending on the age and needs of students – but the ultimate goal is the same: provide students with the knowledge, skills, and experiences for success. These opportunities allow students to apply content knowledge in hands-on, exciting ways, empowering students to become life-long learners who are equipped for success in school, work, and life.

Spotlight: Hyde Square Task Force/BPS Summer Early Focus
Essential Question: How can you be a leader in your community?


Imagine writing a story and bringing it to life! That’s what happens every day for the students at Hyde Square Task Force – BPS Summer Early Focus site. These rising 2nd and 3rd graders spend their mornings at BPS Summer Early Focus in specialized academic classes designed to strengthen their ELA and math skills, with a portion of time being dedicated specifically toward creative storytelling. Teachers help students develop their own fictional stories on themes such as “Hometown” and “Egypt.” This storytelling focus allows students to use their imaginations while improving their language and writing abilities.

In the afternoons, students participate in arts-based enrichment activities run by Hyde Square Task Force’s staff of musicians, dance teachers, and artists. Students learn latin dance choreography and even write their own blues songs. A part of this enrichment program also allows students to take the stories they wrote in the morning and turn them into plays. By the end of the summer, every student will get to see one of their stories acted out by their peers. Barbara Civill of Hyde Square says, “The theater and other arts enrichment programs help engage students of all different learning styles. A child that may not thrive in a traditional classroom can learn by writing a play about Boston or singing songs about Egypt.”

Spotlight: Courageous Sailing/USS Constitution Museum-BPS
Essential Question: How do parts of a system work together?     


At the Boston Harbor SLP site, 49 BPS students visit USS Constitution Museum (USSCM), sail Boston Harbor, and participate in hands-on science activities to become experts in force and motion.  Educators from Courageous Sailing, USSCM and Boston Public Schools jointly created enrichment curricula and learning goals, all of which relate holistically to ELA, math, and the site’s overall theme.  At visits to the museum, students learn about the battle ship and the system of pulleys and levers that control the ship’s motion and steering.  On the pier, students explore the use of solar energy by creating solar power ovens.  Using pizza boxes and tinfoil, students construct ovens to cook s’mores, learning that energy from the sun can help them create a snack.

Enrichment activities complement the site’s academic classes and help students develop core socio-emotional skills.  Each day, students experience new activities that are outside of their comfort zone, such as sailing Boston Harbor and learning how to swim.  By participating and completing something new each day, students are building confidence and independence.  Additionally, enrichment activities are group-based and aid in student team work skills.  Rebecca Inver of Courageous Sailing explained that, “as some of these kids struggle in school, enrichment gives them an opportunity to be successful outside of the classroom.”  As these students begin 5th grade in the fall, they will carry these skill-based and academic successes with them.


Boston Public Schools   

Boston After School & Beyond