Gotta Keep Reading: 2012 Summer Reading and Writing Academy
written by MaryAnn Nickel, Professor
Fifteen graduate students and 56 kids had an exciting two weeks of adventuring with reading and writing at the Summer Academy held on the Roseland Elementary School campus. The Academy ran from July 9th through July 20th. Guest readers shared their favorite books to close each day. Children worked in a small groups with two or three graduate teachers selecting books to read from a wonderful collection of rich multicultural children's literature and authoring an original story or non-fiction piece to be published in the Sonoma State University's Academy 2012's annual Academy Magazine. At the SSU Author's Tea in the fall, students and their families will come to campus to receive their copy of the magazine. For many it is their first time on a college campus.
The Academy is a supervised practicum for Reading certificate and Specialist candidates. Using a Reading and Writing Workshop format, candidates work with students from 2nd to 9th grades under the supervision of and in collaboration with faculty and Specialist candidates. An emphasis is placed on assessing the strengths of readers and writers from all levels and ages with an obligation to inform the students of what they can do well. Informal assessments and planned instruction utilizes learners' strengths in order to address their needs. Candidates participate in professional conferences and write reports in which they summarize and critique assessment findings. Opportunities are available for candidates to work with beginning readers, struggling readers at different levels, English language learners, and successful readers and writers.
Language is learned through its functional use. As our students engage in purposeful literacy experiences they learn language, learn about language, and learn through language (M.A.K. Halliday). Literacy is a dynamic and multidimensional human process that enables individuals to express, communicate, and reflect on their experiences and their potential next steps. Reading and writing involve constructive strategies of communicating, composing, and meaning making. Language and literacy vary according to regional, historical, social, cultural, political, and economic influences; these and other factors must be interrogated and taken into account when making instructional decisions. Teachers who understand the linguistic, cognitive, socio-cultural, and developmental dimensions of literacy in authentic contexts can better address students' next places to learn and roadblocks in language arts, reading and writing. The course focuses on assessing, planning, teaching and collaborating with fellow graduate candidates to best meet the needs of readers and writers at all levels of skill and ability. The end goal is deep preparation of graduate students who will return to their classrooms and schools and become more successful literacy professionals and educators.