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Finishing the year strong

As the year winds down, there are many extra responsibilities that AmeriCorps members are working against the clock to accomplish.  In partnership with school administration, we work to ensure end of year testing and other school requirements are met and we are happy to do what is required to help our students succeed. Our goal continues to be to get all of our students past the 900-hour dosage mark and as we approach summer vacation the task of keeping students focused and on track requires more attention.

Dosage is the quality time that AmeriCorps members spend in the classroom to help with academic support that students may need in Math, English, Science and History. While we love to help the school in any way we can, we cannot lose vision of the goal at the end of the day. We may have moved a good chunk of our students to that benchmark, but we still have some students we need to motivate and it can seem almost impossible. Along with testing and other academic priorities we have, students also start to check out as the anticipation of getting out of school for the summer.

Many AmeriCorps members may have skepticism in the back of their head. How will I get dosage? Will all of our focus list student reach their goals? Will the time we spend with our students count as quality time? Will the information resonate with them?

During our time in City Year we have found some creative ways to engage with our students, but there are always other ways that may help us reach our dosage goals with our focus list students. Some of the current Cleveland AmeriCorps members were gracious to share some of their techniques that have helped them achieve dosage goals with their students, even when it is not the easiest task.

Ally Hurd, Team Leader at John Adams High School, is not new to the idea of creating unique ways to get dosage with her students. Ally has spent two years at John Adams and understands first-hand how hectic it can be when the school year begins to wind down and how necessary it is to find creative ways to get students in the headspace to learn.

Ally said, “The hardest thing about getting dosage this time of year is student motivation. There’s a lot of testing going on which can impact their motivation to work in class. In an effort to ensure dosage is given I’ve facilitated drop-in tutoring sessions. Everyone is scrambling to finish their schoolwork and bring their grades up, and they need help to do so. By doing this, we not only ensure student success grade-wise, but achieve our dosage goals.”

When it comes to getting dosage, the common problem that arises is creating a lesson that will resonate with the students. Towards the end of the school year lessons have to be strategic and impactful to make sure the information will stick with the students for state testing and the next school year.

Terika Hyneman, Team Leader at Glenville High School, is no stranger to achieving dosage during the school year. When asked of a tactic that she took to get quality dosage with students she said, “One example was turning a math review worksheet into a fun competition.” Terika further broke down the steps of the game, saying, “I would have a stack of paper and have them work on a problem. Once everyone was done I would have them take turns explaining how they got their answer. If their answer was right they received one point and got a chance to shoot a balled up piece of paper in the trash. Whoever made their shot would get an extra point added to their score.”

With the school year coming to an end, “Students tend to be less engaged and looking forward to the two months off that they will soon have. The main goal is to keep everyone motivated with the same energy that the year began with,” said Courtney Mickens, Impact Manager.

Having games that the students enjoy can help to center their attention to the content and if done right they might not even notice that they are doing actual school work. Finding unique activities that helps to engage all students can be difficult but during City Year’s year of service it is important to find the motivation that we started with and try our hardest to Make Better Happen.

About the author.

Dominique Dupree, AmeriCorps Member at John Adams High School, graduated from John Carroll University with a Bachelor’s in English and Communications. She has a Masters in Communication from Southern New Hampshire University. Dominique graduated from CMSD John Hay High School. Next year Dominique is returning to City Year as a Team Leader.

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