Northwest Tri-County IU 5: STEM Boosts Literacy Skills Among Children of Migrants

Every year, Northwest Tri-County Intermediate Unit’s Migrant Education Summer Program immerses the children of migrant families in the richness of literacy and STEM learning. Although school is out, these students who face educational challenges due to frequent moves and economic hardship can maintain educational progress.  

The program is held at the Tom Ridge Environmental Center (TREC), to capitalize on Lake Erie’s beautiful waterfront and natural assets. The focus on environmental themes and education included lessons on pollinators, plus the fun and challenging activity of geocaching, when students get outdoors on a GPS-enabled treasure hunt. They also had fun fishing, through an IU collaboration with the Save Our Native Species (SONS) of Lake Erie Fishing Club.

Classroom and outdoor events were aligned, to engage students in a literacy-infused environment and STEM-enriched instruction. Teachers used an array of resources to bolster reading abilities and boost students’ confidence in reading and writing skills. 

The IU also partnered with Edinboro University’s nationally accredited Graduate Reading Program to help prepare schools for the students’ needs when summer ended. Under the partnership, graduate clinicians assessed each student’s phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension, and such informal factors as interests, motivation, and oral language skills.

The clinicians then wrote a final report with assessment findings and detailed recommendations that the students’ classroom teachers can use in the coming school year to support future learning experiences.

Even students who couldn’t attend the TREC portion of the summer program got a summertime boost in learning, through an in-home teacher who took literacy and STEM lessons straight to the students at home. In total, the TREC and in-home programs served 90+ children of migrants who worked in the region’s agricultural industries.

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