June 30, 2008
Georgia State literacy clinic prepares teachers; helps local children read
Atlanta – A year ago, Isabella Taylor didn’t like to participate during reading time in class and she would quickly grow frustrated when her mother asked her to read a book at home.
But now the 7-year-old is reading on grade level and likes books so much she says she wants to be an author when she’s older.
Isabella is one of hundreds of children building reading fluency, comprehension abilities, vocabulary and confidence thanks to the College of Education’s Urban Literacy Clinic at Georgia State University.
“This program is working wonders for Isabella,” says her mother, Odette Taylor, who also enrolled her son and other daughter in the clinic. “She wants to read more and she’s more motivated.”
The teachers at the clinic are Georgia State graduate students who are studying to be literacy teachers or educators in other areas, such as early and middle childhood education, special education or English. They work individually and in small groups with children on shared and independent reading, book discussions, writing assignments, vocabulary exercises and other literacy strategies.
Yet it’s not just the children who are benefitting. By interacting with all types of readers, Georgia State graduate students learn to design literacy lessons that meet each child’s unique needs. They also see how literacy learning begins with families, is developed in school and extends into after-school and summer programs.
“It’s valuable for the teachers because it gives them the hands-on experience they need to really apply what they’re learning in the classroom,” said Urban Literacy Clinic Director Lori Elliott, who offers guidance to the teachers along with doctoral candidates and graduate students studying to be literacy coaches.
This summer, the clinic is serving 180 children, ages 5 to 18, four days each week. Sessions are also offered during the fall and spring semesters. Since the clinic opened in January 2007, more than 300 children have been tutored by 300 Georgia State graduate students.
Parents gain skills from the literacy clinic as well. From an observation room, they are able to watch their child’s lesson as a literacy coach explains what is taking place. Families are also provided a summary of their students’ accomplishments and recommendations for continued reading and writing at home.
“I like that I get tips from the teacher on how to keep their skills up,” says mother Chantal Horace. “They’ll tell me what they’re working on and how to promote retention or build vocabulary with them at home.”
In addition to the on-campus clinic, Georgia State graduate students also teach literacy lessons at the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta, Parks Middle School and non-profit organizations such as the Study Hall in the Peoplestown Community. For more information, visit http://education.gsu.edu/literacyclinic