Young Audiences of Rochester Arts-in-education programs help STEM Summer learning loss in Rochester

“Please don’t cut down all my trees, I need the earth to breathe! Won’t you help me?” This may sound like a line from Joni Mitchell’s “Big Yellow Taxi,” but it’s actually the beginning of the chorus from a song co-written and produced by students and teaching artists from the Red House Program, a segment of Young Audiences of Rochester’s “Rochester Summer Scholars Program”. 
The Rochester Summer Scholars Program is a comprehensive summer learning loss program funded by the Wallace Foundation and administered by the Rochester City School District. As one of three enrichment partners, Young Audiences of Rochester provides multi-disciplinary arts experiences for rising and at-risk, third through fifth graders throughout the Rochester area. During the program, the students are split into three “Houses,” Red, Blue, and Yellow and spend five weeks of the summer exploring different topics ranging from ecosystems to basic music theory in an effort to keep their minds active and engaged through what many educational thinkers traditionally believe to be “lost time.”
In case you’re not up-to-date on your educational theory, Summer Learning Loss is, simply put, the amount of material that students forget while they are not actively learning during the summer months. Studies show that students lose, on average, one month of grade-level equivalency, but depending on the subject the loss can be up to three months of learning (Cooper 1996*). So what can we do to prevent this significant loss? A follow up publication by Cooper in 2003 (found here) offers a few solutions that may prove to lessen or even stop the loss. Cooper says that options include extending the school year, having students attend summer school, or modifying the current school calendar to break up the large summer vacation by instead adding more frequent, but shorter breaks throughout the school year. He also states that “summer programs are an effective intervention for purposes of academic remediation, enrichment, or acceleration…” It is this last statement that the Young Audiences of Rochester builds their Summer Scholars program upon. They believe that not only will an enriching and educational summer experience foster an environment for new learning, but it will also provide a means to safeguard and build upon past learning.
The video below follows the Red House through their five week experience and demonstrates many activities that the students engaged in, most of which fully integrate the arts into each subject in order to help maximize learning potential and effectiveness. The song “Gift of Green” was co-written by the Red House students and teaching artists and was filmed, edited and produced by filmmaker Shawn Grey.

Young Audiences - Summer Scholars 2014 from Shawn Gray on Vimeo.

*Cooper, H., Nye, B., Charlton, K., Lindsay, J., & Greathouse, S. 1996. “The effects of summer vacation on achievement test scores: A narrative and metaanalytic review.” Review of Educational Research

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