July 24, 2015
LIVONIA, Mich. – Rhyming games, sounding out words and building letter combinations means summer fun for a group of Livonia elementary school students. Leading these summer learning adventures are several Madonna University graduate and undergraduate teacher education students - who, in turn, are honing their teaching skills in classroom management and lesson planning.
Now in its seventh year, the Students Helping Students Literacy Program aims to prevent summer learning loss, and to bring students’ reading skills up to those of their classmates. During the three-week program at Garfield Elementary, Madonna students tutor small groups of incoming first- and second-graders who are behind their grade level in reading.
With a master’s degree in literacy from Madonna, Mary Jane Daudlin, of Grosse Pointe Woods, brought the summer literacy program to Livonia. She explained that even in a few weeks, the program helps introduce and reinforce positive literacy techniques, gives students practice reading so they can be more successful, and makes learning enjoyable. In evaluations given at the conclusion of the program, parents often comment that their child is now interested in reading.
Working in small groups provides the children more individual attention and gives the tutors experience managing groups of students. While they spend time in the library, they also take breaks to play reading games outside, using chalk or playground balls, to “make them feel like reading is fun,” Daudlin said. They also take books home, from the school’s lending library, to read each evening.
Commerce Township resident Kelly Dernay, a Madonna graduate student working toward her endorsement in early childhood education, said the tutors use as many games and hands-on activities as possible to make reading fun. During the brief program they assess the children, set goals for them and help them achieve those goals. “This is the best experience that someone could get, before they head into the classroom,” she said.
Senior elementary education and social studies major Ashley Binder, of Livonia, said she wanted to participate in the Students Helping Students program to gain practice in small group instruction before beginning her student teaching this fall. After just a week she felt more confident in the classroom, creating lesson plans, practicing guided reading instruction, working with words, and thinking of fun ways to pique kids’ interests in reading. “If you pick a book they don’t like, they most definitely won’t read it,” she cautioned.
The Students Helping Students program was established through support from the Kirt Foundation, based in Rochester Hills. As part of her graduate degree work, Daudlin volunteered with the program and developed a version for Livonia students. In addition to gaining classroom skills, the Madonna tutors receive a scholarship stipend.
“It is a very valuable experience,” Daudlin said. “They have the opportunity to understand how to teach reading, as well as the struggling readers.”
Livonia resident Ashley Binder, a Madonna elementary education senior, helps each grade-schooler pick out books to practice reading at home.
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