90 schoolchildren, 30 graduate students to team for reading and writing clinic Loyola collegians work toward master's degrees

June 28, 1998|By Janie J. C. O'Neal | Janie J. C. O'Neal,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

About 90 area schoolchildren will go back to school tomorrow -- along with 30 graduate students -- for the six-week Summer Clinic in Reading and Written Expression at Loyola College.

The children will be given instruction in basic reading and writing skills, while the graduate students will be working with them -- and working toward a master of education degree at the same time.

Held annually, the summer clinic is open to students entering first through 12th grades. Most who take part "have been coming for two or three years now," says Robert Peters, Loyola's coordinator of professional development schools and summer clinic director. Some have taken part for close to a decade, he added.

They will notice a difference in the program this year because for the first time each student is to receive six weeks of individual tutoring.

For the teachers, the clinic is the final practicum for the master's degree -- with reading specialist certification -- from Loyola. Most of the 30 graduate students teaching in the program are classroom teachers.

Peters noted that in past years, the testing, evaluation and instruction of the children were often handled by different graduate students. This summer, he said, the same teacher who tests a child will provide his or her "personalized instruction."

Teaching reading one on one, he said, "will give the students a better sense of continuity throughout the whole program."

Students "often have the attitude that reading is just a hard task," one they cannot do well, Peters said. "We show them, 'Yes, you can.' "

In the past, Peters said, "Most students have a real change of attitude, and are already feeling success in themselves by the end of the second week." He anticipates that the personal tutoring planned for this summer will enhance those feelings of success.

Each student attends one or two of the Monday-through-Thursday, 50-minute sessions. The decision on the number of sessions is made individually for each student, based on the opinions of the child's parents and the graduate students who conducted assessment tests on the incoming youngsters last week.

"About 75 percent of the students who attend the clinic are here for instruction in basic reading and writing skills, while about 25 percent come for on-grade-level enrichment," Peters said. Many of the secondary school students, he noted, are enrolled by parents who want their children "to get a head start on the curriculum" for the coming school year.

Instruction is individualized for each student. While the focus is on reading skills, Peters said, "we try to make the writing connection" in every level of instruction.

The curriculum is individualized -- developed as "truly a collaborative effort between the teacher and the student," Peters said.

In addition to a midprogram conference, parents receive a written case study on their children. The case study will outline the instruction used with each child, give an overview of the student's success in the clinic, and offer recommendations for continued reading instruction.

Many parents, Peters said, "will share the case study with the child's new teacher in the fall" -- information that can help the teacher plan appropriate reading instruction for the student.

The six weeks culminate in a display of the students' projects at a show attended by them, parents and teachers and program and school administrators.

This summer, as before, the final day will include a teacher-produced slide show of the students at work, a "graduation" ceremony at which the children receive certificates and T-shirts, and a lunch.

The event, said Peters, is "for the dedicated people, teachers, parents and students, who all put a great deal of time and effort into the program."

While enrollment has been completed for this year, parents interested in the 1999 summer clinic may obtain information by calling Loyola's education department at 410-617-5095.

Pub Date: 6/28/98

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