Reading Specialization

Terror at the Thought of Secondary Students – Reading Clinic Part 3

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Don’t forget part one and part two, where Emily learned all about clinic and taught an elementary school group! 


20180801_110247When we last left off, I had just finished teaching the elementary part of the Hood Graduate School’s Reading Clinic. The capstone to get my M.S. in Reading Specialization, it had been as crazy, stressful, and beneficial as I had been told. Now I was starting with the secondary clinic, featuring students who would be entering middle or high school in the coming year. I am an elementary teacher by choice – I love my littles, who are so willing to accept me as the authority (my second graders still believed that I could both sing and draw, a happy delusion). What would happen when I taught secondary students, where all the cutesy ideas and tones that motivated my elementary students could be seen with scorn?


The first part of secondary clinic was just understanding how different it would be. Unlike the elementary clinic, where we needed to decorate our classroom, plans were done and approved a week in advance, and we got testing data about our students before we even started, the secondary clinic started with a blank slate. Also, each clinician got two students with distinct needs to work with, instead of students who needed the same skills. To get information on our students, we were given their basic information and phone numbers and asked to call the week before clinic. I20180801_100505 hate talking on the phone and was so nervous about calling the parents, but I got a lot of good information. Luckily for me, the parents of both of my students were knowledgeable about their child’s strengths, needs, and goals, so I was able to use that information to help get ready. I was also able to use the information to connect my instruction to their goals. For instance, one of my students, who wants to be a teacher, was working on reading for a purpose. She prepared a lesson around a picture book, then got a chance to read to and teach students from the elementary clinic.


20180807_100020When the students came in, we started by doing some testing. Since they were so different, instead of doing things together like in elementary clinic, I would work with one while giving the other one a task to do independently. This was how most of the clinic went; although I occasionally did some things with both of my students, mostly I alternated between the two. With older students, they appreciated their independence and a chance to work without me. Occasionally, I would have both working independently while I observed and got a chance to reflect on what we had already done. As an elementary teacher, this more relaxed, less structured, attitude was nice! As a group of clinicians, we fostered that independence through occasional communal STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) projects.


While the overall workload in the secondary clinic was about the same, I found it more evenly spread and less stressful than the elementary clinic, which was unexpected! Instead of having to complete our entire week’s plans on Thursday afternoon, we planned every day for the next day after recording reflections about that day’s instruction. So much of what we worked on was making our learning relevant for our students. We found that when we treated them like young adults and showed them why what they were learning would help them, they bought into it. Being on a college campus gave us so many opportunities! 20180726_111209 smallWhen a sculpture exhibition was going up in the front of the building, the students got to talk to the artist, MFA student Alex Miller. They asked some great questions and he was able to explain some of his process as an artist and exhibitor. We also did a scavenger hunt through the library. When talking about the different ways to research, we came across the microfiche machines. Although I remember doing research using these machines as a child, after almost breaking one trying to get it started, we found a librarian to help us! The students were fascinated and looked at a newspaper from 1894.


We had a great three weeks, and at the end, I decided that teaching secondary students wasn’t too bad. I was lucky since both of my students were motivated and wanted to learn, so I just had to guide them. They both enjoyed strategies that I taught them, and when asked to write a letter to me at the end, gave me some great feedback. The students got to work together to unlock an ‘escape room’, using reading comprehension to decode hints to find keys. For the last day, our lead teacher asked them about their education goals. After saying goodbyes, the clinicians worked together to pack up our classrooms, and many of us went out to lunch to celebrate. I can’t believe that it is over! We’ve been 20180808_112728hearing about clinic since we first started the program. While it is as all-consuming as they said - we thought that working for hours every day after teaching to plan for the next day as an exaggeration – it wasn’t. We got to apply our skills, practice new ones, and became more comfortable with strategies and age groups we hadn’t worked with before!




Thank you so much to Dr. Ellen Koitz, program director of the reading specialization program and head of the elementary clinic, and Casey Day, professor and head of the secondary clinic for preparing us for clinic and supporting us through it! Although I came to you with lots of questions (SO MANY QUESTIONS), you were always ready to help all of us. We would never have learned so much and had such a great experience without you! 20180808_143721

2018 Outstanding Reading Specialization Student Emily Sikora

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SikoraThe 2018 Outstanding Student in Hood’s M. S. in Reading Specialization program is Emily Sikora. An accomplished elementary school teacher, Emily is about to start her 11th year of with Frederick County Public Schools, teaching 2nd grade at Urbana Elementary School. As a student at Hood, Emily conducted action research to look at “the effects of using oral rehearsal on a student’s written elaboration”. Examining whether talking about what they are going to write beforehand helps students to write more, she found applicable data for herself and her peers. One of Emily’s favorite parts of the program was the reading clinic, where she says she “was able to apply my knowledge to support students in a small group setting. Also, I was able to see how the application of the skills that I learned had an impact on the students I was working with. During this time, I also developed a close friendship with the other clinicians. We supported each other to analyze the data and provide prescriptive instruction to the students.”


In the immediate future, Emily plans to stay in the classroom. Eventually, she hopes to pursue a position as an elementary reading specialist. We wish her all the best!


Thank you to Virginia ‘Ginny’ Jones, Hood class of ‘66, provider of the award 

Passing the Torch: Advice From Graduated Students to New Ones

Posted by | Clinical Counseling, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, Humanities, Information Technology, Reading Specialization | No Comments

D7R_3305As we near the beginning of the 2018-2019 academic school year, the Graduate School at Hood College is excited to welcome all new and returning students! For many, this is their first experience with graduate school. As this is a different experience from undergraduate work, we asked some of our recent graduates for their advice for incoming students.
Lois Johnson-Mead, a recent M.S. in Environmental Biology graduate, thinks that “graduate school is a chance to push boundaries and look inside yourself to find out what you want to explore. I encourage students to try different classes, stretch beyond their normal expectations, join in on events, lectures, and symposiums that can stretch your thinking and potential. Hood College asked me to examine how I think, what I care about, and to discover so much more than I expected. I hope all new graduate students, especially international students, give themselves the chance to embrace those opportunities; after all that’s the Hood Way!”


Merrideth Wile, a graduate of the M.S. in Counseling program, said simply to “pace yourself, and enjoy the process.” Work through classes at the schedule that it right for you and try to get the most out of it.


When asked about what incoming students should know, Tara Scibelli, who earned her M.A. in Humanities, said to “do all the assigned readings to get the most out of your classes.” Everyone gets busy, but the more that you do for the class, the more that you will gain.


Mia Zimnick, another Environmental Biology graduate, explains you should “prioritize your education. It may be easy to get caught up in life outside of school, but while you’re in the program, try to make it your main focus. This includes reaching out to your professors when you need help, forming study groups with your fellow students, and spending a few weekends in the lab. It’ll all be worth it when you’re done.”


Megan Ramsburg, who graduated with an M.S. in Reading Specialization thinks that “it is important to know that you can approach your professors. They are here to help you and can be very accommodating to your needs. Ultimately, they all want to see you succeed in your program.”


Mir Abdul Wasay, the outgoing Graduate Student Association president who completed his M.S. in Information Technology stated, “I personally believe that education neither starts nor ends in the classroom.”


Finally, Environmental Biology graduate Kevin Stanfield advises to “immerse yourself in the experience. You may have recurring dreams about the effects of climate change on an obscure species of owl, but it makes learning easier!”

Dogs, Exploring, Plays, and Stress – Reading Clinic Part 2

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Miss the first blog in the series? Read about how clinic started, from meeting the kids to being observed in one day, and the difference between confidence and overconfidence in Part One!


20180719_101828 editGetting ready for the second week of clinic, I felt a strange combination of nervous and confident. I’d survived the first week without any major disasters and felt like I’d been teaching my three students for a month. The next week, I still had three students, but it wasn’t the same three. After all, this is the summer. Clinicians want to have summer break, and students and their families do too. That means vacations and trips, which all my students went on. In fact, I ended up having all four of my students for the entire day just two days out of the entire session. After going through introductions all over again on Monday, we got right back into it. We explored the beautiful campus - after all, as we told them, they were coming to classes at the college and were college students now - and still got plenty of work done!


20180711_101631 (1)One of the things that I love about teaching elementary students is that they (mostly) want to please and learn. My group were all motivated learners who tried hard to do their best and enjoyed reading. I’m pretty sure that if I asked them to sit down and read a phone book, they would! Of course, we tried to have a little more fun than that. One of everyone’s favorite things is reading to the dogs. I wish I could take credit for it, but they do it every year. Dogs from Wags For Hope come weekly so that the students can read to them. Even shy and hesitant readers will read to dogs! My students told me all about Dixie, the cocker spaniel who would wriggle over next to you while you read, and Thor, the Bernese Mountain Dog who lived to listen and drool. The dogs also serve an important purpose for the teachers – while we sent one or two of our students at a time , they each got to read to the dogs for 15 minutes , we could work with or assess our remaining students.


For me, one of the toughest parts of clinic was balancing the learning and the fun. After all, I only had three weeks to help these kids, but this is three weeks out of their summer, so they needed to enjoy it too! They were engaged by some work with biographies – yes, biographies can be a lot of fun! When we read about Helen Keller, they created braille messages using a pencil to poke through paper. Then, they each got to pick a person to research from a list of books at their level. One of the coolest moments I had in clinic was watching their discussion when they, without any suggestions from me, each decided to pick someone that they had never heard of. They ended up researching Bessie Coleman, Maria Tallchief, and Ramses the Great and then taught everyone about them. They also had a great time working on a reader’s theater play for The Cheetah and the Sloth (it’s a version of The Tortoise and the Hare) and deciding how dramatically to act it out!20180718_112217 (1)


Of course, while all this fun and learning was going on for the students, the clinicians were learning too. We were observed again the second week, this time doing one of our reading lessons. For once, the lesson I was observed on went well. Probably the toughest thing was the last week – not only were we observed during a writing lesson, we had to observe each other AND get observed coaching each other. We were learning lots of things about the teaching, but the concept of coaching was new. We’d done it once before in class, when our teacher gave us (purposefully) awful lessons to teach to each other, then we took turns coaching each other. This time, though, we had to give each other feedback on lessons that we had designed and cared about. Luckily, mine went well, I was able to give the other clinician ideas while staying positive. But I wondered…what would happen in a school situation, with a teacher who didn’t really want my feedback?


Finally, the third week was over. I couldn’t believe I was done with the elementary clinic – I felt like I had been teaching these kids forever, and I wasn’t ready to turn them over to another teacher. We had a great last day, reading a book about the history of chocolate and making mug brownies in the microwave (messy, but fun), before their parents came in to visit and the students got to share all the things that they had learned. It was so great to see their growth in just three weeks, but I knew I would miss them. Plus, now I was switching to the secondary clinic. If teaching in the elementary clinic, which is where I am comfortable, was tough, how would it be teaching students who are little adults?


I wasn’t ready for secondary, are you? Hear about a whole new program, system, and students, coming soon!

Classes start soon! Register today. Learn more about our programs designed for educators:

Curriculum and Instruction, M.S.

Multidisciplinary Studies, M.S.

Reading Specialization, M.S.

Mathematics Instructional Leadership, M.S.


What’s it Like to be in Reading Clinic? Part 1

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clinic 2A crucial part of most any graduate school program is the capstone project – the project at the end of the program where students get a chance to apply and expand on everything they have learned. At Hood College’s Graduate School, these projects can range from traditional research to poetry, an art exhibition, action research, or teaching. Here’s a firsthand account of such a project, written by Emily Bernstein, one of our own Graduate Ambassadors… 


I’m Emily Bernstein, a student in Hood’s Reading Specialization program, and right now I’m experiencing my capstone project. As a Graduate Ambassador, I normally write about other people and events at the graduate school. This summer, however, I am part of the Hood College Reading Clinic, and it’s my turn to share!


When telling friends about clinic, formally known as the Advanced Clinical Reading Experience, I’ve called it “the graduate version of student teaching”. Really, it’s more like two semesters of teaching, packed into six weeks, and fast forwarded. We already know how to teach, so now we are putting together what we’ve learned about assessment, intervention, strategies, and coaching, and packing it into two three-week sessions. I’m starting with the elementary session, which I’ll do for three weeks, and then switch to the secondary session. The graduate students are the clinicians, working with real elementary and secondary students whose parents signed them up for our clinic. We have three lead teachers, all experienced reading specialists, as well as two directors. They observe and mentor us, and answer our (many, many, many!) questions.


Clinic PhotoWe were off and running from the beginning. We had already done some testing and assessment on the elementary students during pre-clinical class in the spring, when parents brought their children to us after school. As part of that class, we divided the students into groups, trying to place them with peers with similar needs. There’s no way to create perfect groups, so one of the challenges of clinic is to help them all! That also means you may not get the students you tested. In my group of four, I already knew two students, but had not met the others. Our first clinic day was a Monday, and we met without the students. After getting more information about what we were doing, we had the afternoon to finish setting up our classrooms and plan. Working together with Araceli and Theresa, the other teachers sharing the room, we turned a college classroom into a welcoming luau with lots of books.


We had to get ready quickly because the next day we met our kids, got started, and had our first observation during a word study lesson. Dr. Ellen Koitz, our director, came in to watch me teach the students. My plan was clear and thorough, I knew what I was teaching and how to do it, so it had to go perfectly, right? I wish! Unfortunately, one student sailed through the activity, one student struggled, and I tried to compensate by explaining too much. Luckily, Dr. Koitz was there to help with my struggling student. She didn’t think the lesson was as awful as I did, and we came through at the end. One of the great things about clinic is that it’s a time to try new things and push yourself. Our lead teachers keep telling us that, and it’s turning out to be true. Part of what they assess isn’t necessarily how great our lesson was, but whether we were able to reflect on it, notice what didn’t go as smoothly, and figure out how to make it better. Of course, we all tell ourselves that we’re going to be the one whose lesson goes perfectly, it’s a nice dream to have.


The next day was the 4th of July, so we got a day off. Coming back Thursday, we taught our groups for the second day - we were veterans now! - and it went much smoother. As part of the elementary clinic, Thursday is our long day. On Friday, we don’t teach, but individually conference with a lead teacher to go over our plans for the entire next week. That means we must create our detailed plans, including lessons, books, and word sorts, with rationales for why we are picking each strategy, by Friday morning. Thursday afternoon was a LONG afternoon, with many hours picking and planning. Luckily, working with three clinicians in each classroom, we could bounce ideas off each other and share resources. It was a long day, but the greatest thing about it was that it meant after Friday we were done. The weekend was the weekend, since everything was planned, I could take those two days to relax and (try) to prepare myself for the second week!


Hear about my first full week, reading with the dogs, and meeting my new student! Read Part 2.

Classes start soon! Register today. Learn more about our programs designed for educators:

Curriculum and Instruction, M.S.

Multidisciplinary Studies, M.S.

Reading Specialization, M.S.

Mathematics Instructional Leadership, M.S.

What Will You Remember?

Posted by | Clinical Counseling, Environmental Biology, Graduate School Highlights, GSA, Information Technology, Reading Specialization | No Comments

D7R_3305It’s time to celebrate those completing their Hood College Graduate School degrees! We wanted to know what they celebrated about Hood. Throughout their time here, what was their favorite memory? From their professors to experiences that will help them in their fields and the friends that they made, all of the graduates had great memories to share…


Kevin Stanfield, who is receiving his M.S. in Environmental Biology, enjoys remembering the antics of some of his favorite professors, like “watching Dr. (Eric) Annis describe an ecological niche considering n variables in an n-dimensional hyperspace using interpretive dance” and how “Dr. (Eric) Kindahl can deliver riveting two-hour lectures without saying ‘um’ or ‘ah’ or misspeaking even if you intentionally try to derail him.”


M. S. in Reading Specialization recipients Megan Ramsburg and Emily Sikora talked about the reading clinic as their favorite memory. Megan said “this might sound silly, but Summer Reading Clinic may be my favorite (and hardest) memory of the program. It is amazing how much we were able to help these struggling readers in only 6 weeks. Plus, I enjoyed my time with the other clinicians immensely. They really made this experience my favorite memory. We became a family who were able to provide emotional, instructional, and motivational support to each other on a constant basis. The experience truly tested us in so many ways and yet, provided us with the skills and confidence in ourselves that we (some days) didn’t know we had.” Emily agrees, saying “I was able to see how the application of the skills that I learned had an impact on the students I was working with. During this time, I also developed a close friendship with the other clinicians. We supported each other to analyze the data and provide prescriptive instruction to the students.”


For M. S. in Counseling graduate Merrideth Wile, her favorite memory is all about her relationship with her fellow students. She explains “this is not a specific memory, but I cherish the friends I’ve made.” Mia Zimnik, another Environmental Biology graduate, agrees when she said “after my first round of finals myself and the rest of my cohort went out downtown to celebrate. We were all so happy to be done with our first exams of grad school, so proud of ourselves, and were all feeling very relieved! We continued this tradition up until this past round of finals, and it really helped get us through the exams.”


Mir Abdul Wasay, who will receive his M.S. in Information Technology and is the outgoing president of Graduate Student Association (GSA), said that “I’m going to miss the GSA events. They are sweet memories for rest of my life and I will not forget trip to New York with some amazing friends and colleagues.”


Lois Johnson-Mead, who is also a graduate in the Environmental Biology program, chose a memory that connected her learning with hands-on experience and a chance to practice her skills. She explains that being “invited to travel down the Potomac River to assess the health of the Chesapeake Bay oyster population on a historic buyboat for a marine ecology course was one of the favorite, all-encompassing memories I have as an ENV graduate student. Being a part of a discovery team showed me the potential of my graduate degree and connected me with real world issues and possible solutions.”


Stay tuned to hear about our graduate’s future plans!

Reading is the Key

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HelineAraceli Henline’s journey is all about how to help her students. An English Language Learner (ELL) teacher with 22 years of experience, working with students with all levels of English is her passion. From newcomers with almost no English to those who are learning to expand their grasp of English grammar and vocabulary, Araceli is there for them all. Born in Texas and raised in Colorado and part of a Spanish speaking family, she feels that “being an ELL student myself, (students) need teachers who are like them to empathize with them. They need to be challenged by someone who understands yet can show rising above the barriers of language to become a positive contributor to our community is possible.” Outside of teaching, she loves the outdoors, which she learned to appreciate growing up in Denver. Along with hiking, camping, and fishing, she runs half marathons and is considering running a full marathon in the future. She is happily married with 2 children and enjoys the support that her family gives her.

Henline is enrolled in Hood College’s M.S. in Reading Specialization program, which certifies teachers to become reading/literacy specialists, a position which works with students, teachers, and administration to help students learn to read, write, and comprehend. Araceli is already certified as elementary and ELL teacher but wants more for herself and her students. Now in her 6th year teaching at Frederick County Public Schools’ Hillcrest Elementary, a Title I school with a high ELL population, she doesn’t have any plans to leave the classroom soon, but “would consider becoming a reading interventionist with a similar population of ELLs because that is where my heart is.” More important for her is to “prepare my students to become better readers as I become more knowledgeable with this specialization. Reading is so important. I realize the success of my ELL students greatly depends on their ability to not only speak the English language, but to be strong readers and writers. They come to us 5-7 years behind and we need to catch them up with their peers and level the playing field. I realize that reading is a vehicle to my students’ success in the future. It’s exciting to implement the reading strategies I learn at Hood with my students now.”

Araceli is enjoying her time at Hood. While teaching full time, having a family, and being in classes is challenging, she enjoys the small classes and knowledgeable professors. As she gets ready to do her clinical experience this summer, working with elementary and secondary students over the break, she is using everything she learned through the program. She will earn her certification next year but is already using what she has learned to help her students. We wish her all the best!

Who Teaches the Teachers?

Posted by | Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, Graduate School Highlights, Multidisciplinary Studies in Education, Reading Specialization, STEM Education, Uncategorized | No Comments


Hanna editHarry Hanna, one of many exceptional adjunct professors in Hood College’s education programs, has multiple connections to Hood, from being caught by college security toilet papering cars on campus in his much younger days, to marrying a Hood graduate, to working at a summer program hosted at Hood and staying in the dorms before men were allowed to live on campus. He later earned his M.S. in Educational Leadership from Hood, and now teaches as an adjunct professor.


As a young man in California, he worked various jobs while finishing high school and then attended community college while working. At 20, he joined the United States Army, and after basic training in Kentucky and advanced training as a medic in Texas, was assigned to Fort Detrick in Frederick, MD, where he first heard about Hood College. Hanna explains; “at the time, Hood was primarily a women’s college and someone at Fort Detrick told me that I was going to love the post and that there was a women’s college a mile from the base.” While stationed at Detrick, he took classes at Frederick Community College and finished his A.A. degree while working in the Virology Division at the United States Army Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID). He became friends with some of the Hood College students who were interning at the base and learned more about the college and its programs.


After finishing his enlistment, Harry decided to pursue a degree in elementary education at Towson University, where he became the first member of his family to graduate from college. At the same time, he continued to make friends with Hood students, and ending up dating Hood student Barbara Wood, ’97, whom he married a year after she graduated. They moved to California for a few years where Harry taught middle school and Barbara elementary. In 2002, they returned to Frederick and both began working for Frederick County Public Schools at Twin Ridge Elementary. They’ve now been married for almost 20 years, have four wonderful children, and still get together with her best friend from Hood at least once a year!


Harry has worked for FCPS in various positions, and then finally made it to Hood as student, earning his Master’s in Educational Leadership in 2007. While working at Centerville Elementary as a Technology Staff Developer and Reading Intervention Teacher, he was recruited by a Hood adjunct to teach EDUC 502, Technology for Literacy, Leadership and Learning, a core course for the Curriculum and Instruction, Educational Leadership, Reading Specialization, and STEM certificate graduate programs. The course looks at instructional technology and “discusses how technology fits within the modern and traditional classrooms.” He has taught many graduate students, who describe him as “motivating.” One current student explains that his class gave her “not just real things I can use, but the ways and means and comfort to use them”.


See a clip of Harry teaching a class HERE


Why Hood? Harry explains; “I truly have been blessed by Hood in many ways and I have spent the better part of a decade now teaching teachers how to incorporate technology in their classrooms, whether they are educators in Maryland, West Virginia or even Saudi Arabia, (where two current students are from). I love teaching this course because the content is dynamic since the changes in technology keep it fresh and engaging. We ask our students to take risks when it comes to incorporating technology in their teaching, and we can model it ourselves. I always hope that my students take away from the course a shift in mindset in the way they look and view technology. It is a tool to help students be successful, to think critically and not just be consumers of technology and information, but creators of it. I really want teachers to know that, even if they aren’t totally comfortable with a particular program, app or piece of technology, that it is OK if students might know more about it than they do. Teachers shouldn’t use technology just for technology’s sake, but to develop those higher order thinking skills through creativity, collaboration, content creation and connection. These are some of my goals for my graduate students.  Hood has been a big part of my life and I am #Hoodproud!”

From Student to Mentor: Justine Freimanis Continues At Hood

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JustineJustine Freimanis has experienced Hood College as an undergraduate student, graduate student, and teacher. In 1997, she received her undergraduate degrees in Early Childhood Education and Psychology. She immediately got a job teaching in Frederick County Public Schools, where she has now been for 20 years! In 2004, she earned came back to Hood for her graduate degree, an MS in Reading Specialization. As of 2017, she is the literacy specialist at Monocacy Elementary School, where she is also the Professional Development School (PDS) coordinator. This role has her organizing students from Hood and other programs, such as Frederick Community College, who come to Monocacy for their student teaching internships. Even with this, Justine’s work at Hood isn’t quite done. She is taking classes in the Educational Leadership program, working toward her administrative certification. Beyond taking classes, she is also helping future literacy specialists as a mentor teacher in the 2017 Reading Clinic, where participants in the Reading Specialization graduate program apply their skills working with elementary and Secondary students. Ellen Koitz, head of the Reading Specialization program, is pleased to have an outstanding graduate back to help teach future literacy specialists.

Justine attributes her continued affiliation with both Hood and FCPS to how the two work well together. She explains that “professors and staff at Hood work really hard to communicate with the school system, keep the focus consistent, and give the students an understanding of what is really going on with education in the real world”. She also states that she has had great experiences here with staff and peers. Hood is happy to have her back!

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Become a Reading Specialist By Doing It!

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In the Hood College Master’s in Reading Specialization program, two of the final steps are EDUC 524 and 525, Advanced Clinical Reading Experiences. Familiarly known as ‘clinic’, these two classes come together as a rigorous six-week summer program where participants act as reading specialists. It is an intense time, with the participants doing everything from assessing their students, creating plans to teach them based on their needs, and even observing and coaching each other. Program director Ellen Koitz explains that it is a chance for graduate students to apply the skills they’ve learned throughout the program, as well as for local elementary and secondary students to really learn over the summer. Hood’s emphasis on hands-on application and real-life experience shines, as participants create and follow through with plans tailored to real students and peers. Megan Ramsburg, a teacher at FCPS’ Whittier Elementary School, explains that “if I start a career as a literacy specialist, I now already have some experience with what it will be like”.

Something that sets Hood’s program apart is the focus on a variety of ages. The certification gained through the program is for K-12, so participants work with both elementary and secondary students. This means that elementary school teachers will work with high school students, and vice versa. For three weeks, participants work with elementary students, all of whom are identified as reading at least a year below their grade levels. For the three weeks with secondary students, the focus is on content area reading and study skills. 2017 participant Rachel Crane, a teacher for Washington County Public Schools states, “you get experience with a variety of age groups and needs that it’s almost impossible to get in your regular career”.

Another advantage to the program is timing. With clinic occurring during the summer, students don’t need to take a leave of absence from their regular jobs or try to cram hours in around other teaching. Clinic participants are either ready to graduate or need just one more class, and once their program portfolios are submitted they will gain their certification. While the group agrees that they are ready to be done and graduate, they also praise the program for pushing them and preparing them for a variety of situations and career choices.

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