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School of Education develops innovative reading course

A course for pre-service teachers enrolled at Elon University culminated Dec. 10 when students visited a local Barnes & Noble to assist local parents purchase books for their young children who struggle with reading in local schools.

The upper-level course, “Teaching Struggling Readers,” was offered with a new dimension for the fall 2008 semester. Over the past four months, Elon pre-service teachers in this course not only learned the theoretical underpinnings for how to teach struggling readers, they also practiced their craft with struggling readers who were brought to campus by their parents. 

Pre-service teachers, students and parents worked as a team to tackle the various reading difficulties the children face.

Sponsored by a grant from the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, and in collaboration with Barnes & Noble and the university’s Office of Civic Engagement, $1,500 worth of books were purchased for 16 elementary school children. 

“Working with parents and students has been incredibly productive for our pre-service teachers. They have had to stretch themselves beyond their texts to become very diagnostic in their approach to teaching reading,” said Jean Rohr, an assistant professor of education who led the course. “Our pre-service teachers have not only developed strategies for working with struggling readers, but they have had to make important decisions about how to work effectively with parents.

“It has been fascinating watching the development of their on-the-spot decision making skills.”

Parents on Wednesday night praised the way their children have grown through the program.

“I really enjoyed the tutoring sessions and regret that it is coming to an end because I can see the progress my son is making,” one mother said. “I also think this is great practice for the young teachers as they begin their journey as educators. My son struggled so much last year I am still amazed at how enthusiastic he is to come to Elon on Wednesdays to read.”

-Written by professor Deborah Long

Eric Townsend,
12/11/2008 10:36 AM