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State-of-the-art clinic helps to develop young readers

Reading ClinicOn Tuesday and Thursday evenings, Hawkins Hall serves as the site for a reading clinic that benefits Towson University Master of Education in Reading students, local children and their parents alike.

The 60 or more clients come from public, private and parochial schools, with ages typically ranging from kindergarten through high school. The clinic frequently tutors one or two adults per term.

Almost all the student clinicians are local classroom teachers attending TU part-time. Their Master of Education in Reading program prepares them to become reading specialists in Maryland schools.

“The reading clinic is one of the last courses students take. Therefore, the students use all of the information they learned throughout the program and apply it at that point, while getting coached by their professor,” says Gilda Martinez-Alba, graduate reading program director.

Weekly reading clinic sessions last an hour. Student clinicians and their clients work one-on-one in small tutoring rooms equipped with a computer and essential teaching supplies. Tutoring rooms frame a large behind-the-glass observation room where professors watch and other students can observe instruction.

Clinicians develop an individualized program of study based on a battery of assessments that they administer to the clients during the first few sessions. During the tutoring sessions, teachers and clients work together with a variety of materials, including books, magazines and computers.

Parents play a collaborative role in clinic activities. While their children work with graduate students from both clinic courses, parents attend workshops led by students from the advanced clinic course.

“The workshops teach parents and caregivers how to help their children build reading skills. This way the support the children get while at the clinic is extended to the home,” says Martinez-Alba.

The term ends with a Family Night dinner and graduation at the University Union. Each clinician brings his or her client to the stage where they talk about the child’s progress. For reading education students, the night marks a major milestone in their own education.

“We aspire for the families to continue on as lifelong readers,” says Martinez-Alba.

“The TU Reading Clinic aims to help families learn strategies to assist them in continuing to develop reading skills, for the sake of learning as well as enjoyment–always,” she says.

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