The Big Day!

After so much hard work, it’s surreal that this moment has finally come! JumpStart camps officially began yesterday in 9 of the 14 communities we’ve partnered with for this project, including: Amubri, El Capulín, La Cruz, Limón, Puerto Jiménez, Sabalito, San Carlos, Sirapiquí, and Siquirres. The camp in Los Santos starts today; JumpStart Carrizal begins on Thursday; those planned for La Guaria and Quepos kick off next Monday; and JumpStart Sepeque will begin on January 21st. Curious as to where those towns are located? See the Google Map to the left to find out, and then check out the links to the right for stories and other updates from all our sites.

During JumpStart, which ends on February 1st, the Peace Corps Volunteers and Costa Rican English teachers facilitating the camps will be using a curriculum painstakinly designed for this project by Megon Coon and Kevin Klott, two former TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language) Peace Corps Volunteers who just recently moved back to the United States this past December. In addition to four weeks’ worth of lesson plans, the curriculum includes a student workbook, review guide, and printable materials for many of the activities. We’ll be posting a few of those lessons here on our blog this month!

One of our volunteers´ first priorities as JumpStart gets underway will be to conduct short video interviews consisting of basic questions with their students to better gauge and document each kid´s prior knowledge of English. Because the JumpStart curriculum is fast-paced and jam-packed, it’s important that the interviews are conducted as soon as possible. After only a few lessons, the students, many of whom have never taken an English class, will have learned enough to perform far better than they would have just last week.

These video interviews are just one example of the tools we plan to use to evaluate JumpStart’s effectiveness in preparing students for success in high school English classes. Most of our camps’ participants will be advancing to seventh grade, the first year of high school in Costa Rica, after the current summer break. We’ll be following them throughout the year to see how they perform compared to other students who haven’t attended JumpStart. Based on the results from our one and only camp last year in Carrizal, we believe JumpStart will boost performance not only among students who didn’t receive English instruction during elementary school, but also those who did.
The JumpStart camps themselves are short, but JumpStart 2013 won’t be entirely wrapped up for quite some time. Stay tuned throughout January and during the months that follow to learn about our students’ progress and our continued efforts to make this project bigger and better. Until next time!