Reading education graduate students gain hands-on experience, local children gain reading skills
On Tuesday and Thursday evenings, Hawkins Hall serves as the site for a reading clinic that benefits Master of Education in Reading students, local children and their parents alike.
The 40 or more enrollees come from public, private and parochial schools, with ages typically ranging from kindergarten through high school. The clinic frequently tutors one or two adults per term.
Almost all the student clinicians are local classroom teachers attending TU part-time. Their Master in Reading Education degree will qualify them as reading specialists in any public school in Maryland. The two terms they serve in the Reading Clinic are not only mandatory, but also essential to their education.
“The clinic is designed as a practicum experience for reading education students. Under the guidance of their professors, everything they’ve learned about teaching and assessment comes together,” says Elizabeth Dicembre, clinic director.
Weekly reading clinic sessions last an hour. Student clinicians and their clients work one-on-one in small tutoring rooms equipped with a computer and essential teaching supplies. Tutoring rooms frame a large behind-the-glass observation room where professors watch.
Clinicians develop an individualized program of study based on a battery of assessments that clients take during the first few sessions. They work together with a variety of materials, including books, magazines and computers.
Parents play a collaborative role in clinic activities. While their children work with graduate students from both clinic courses, parents attend workshops provided by students from the advanced clinic course.
“Our clinic encourages an active partnership between parents and the student clinicians,” says Dicembre. “Parents learn about developing literacy in the home.” Children are assigned homework designed to promote subsequent collaboration between the family and the clinicians."
The term ends with a Family Night dinner and graduation at the University Union. Each clinician brings his or her client to the stage where they talk about the child’s progress. For reading education students, the night marks a major milestone in their own education. For the children and their parents, Dicembre says the celebration marks the beginning of a process rather than an ending.
“Parents need to be committed long-term to their children’s literacy,” she says. “TU’s Reading Clinic is just the first step in their journey."
by Stu Zang/Photos by Kanji Takeno
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