Program Information

SLAM is a 2-hour after school program that meets two days a week from mid-October to mid-May. The program supports 24 students (8 students from each grade) who have been identified by their classroom teachers as students who seem to have some academic challenges but are not falling behind enough to qualify for additional academic support during the school day. Students rotate through three areas of learning (Reading Area, Story Time Area, Number Fun Area) and are taught by a veteran teacher and an assistant teacher. Additionally, the program hires an additional assistant teacher and an onsite supervisor. The less than 4:1 ratio of students to teachers ensures that students get extensive assistance and learning is more individualized. Students spend 30 minutes of instructional time in each of the three areas. Time is built into the schedule so students have a little downtime and a snack before jumping into the academic programming. Additionally, there is time built into the end of SLAM for students to reflect on what activities they have done, share what they found to be fun and interesting, and hear from their peers what they thought was most engaging.

Story Time Area

Students spend 30 minutes of instructional time in the Story Time area where they are read aloud carefully selected fiction and non-fiction that will help deepen their listening skills as well as provide opportunities to have meaningful discussions about the books they read. Using the research-based program Braidy, The StoryBraid by Mind Wing Concepts, students learn about story structure (e.g. characters, setting, story resolution, etc.). Students practice their oral language skills by talking about stories, summarizing the main elements of a story and thinking beyond that specific text; students are encouraged to think about how the story may relate to other stories, to themselves and to the world they live in. Students also read non-fiction materials to help foster an understanding of the differences with this type of text and begin to learn about what it means to research and learn a new subject. Vocabulary acquisition is another important component of the Story Time area. Vocabulary words are selected from the texts that are read to the students. Students interact with new vocabulary words by looking at pictures that help capture a meaning of the word and draw their own pictures to help them remember each vocabulary word they are taught. Students then play various games to help secure the meaning of the new vocabulary words so that they become part of their vocabulary.

Reading Area

Students follow an Orton-Based Reading approach to learning how to read which utilizes multisensory techniques to teach sound-symbol correspondence. The curriculum is guided by reading expectations for what each grade is expected to learn and know by the end of the school year with a focus of moving at a slower pace than occurs in a typical classroom to match the needs of each cohort. During the time in the reading areas, students will spend time solidifying their letter/sound correspondence, blending sounds together to ensure successful word reading, and use their decoding skills to engage in reading for meaning decodable texts. The ultimate goal of reading is to be able to comprehend text and have interesting discussions about what has been read. This is also fostered in the Reading area. Additionally, students will engage in conversations about dependable letter sounds that appear in the English language (e.g. words that have the vowel/consonant/e pattern) as well as words that have unexpected sounds (e.g. said).

Number Fun Area

The SLAM math program draws on the principles of the research-based Eureka Math program and delivers an interactive and engaging math curriculum with an emphasis on developing a strong grasp of number sense as well as deepening computational fluency in First and Second Grade. SLAM has also adopted a game-based learning strategy for developing math skills. Game playing provides intrinsic motivation for students to participate in activities that provide critical math practice for concepts that have been introduced in the classroom (e.g. math facts, place value). Additionally, games provide opportunities for critical thinking and problem solving as well as fostering social-emotional development as students must learn to wait their turn and be gracious and respectful winners or losers.