Fully Accredited BHSU Graduate Reading Program Highlights Value of Teaching Reading | Education


When Izzie Harms notices some students struggling with reading, she tries to figure out what is behind their difficulties. Maybe they need to hold something to help them focus – an object she called a “stirring” – or maybe they need to read something closer to their interests. .

Harms, a longtime second-grade supply teacher at General Beadle Elementary School in the Rapid City Area School District, is working on her Masters in Reading Education at Black Hills State University. It was a program she explained that made her more effective in helping students overcome barriers to reading.

Black Hills State University has received full national accreditation for its master’s in reading education from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, according to an announcement in October from the university.

“The BHSU M.Ed. in Reading received full accreditation with no areas for improvement or stipulations, making the BHSU School of Education the only state institution to be fully accredited by CAEP at the undergraduate and graduate levels, ”states the announcement.

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The university’s undergraduate education programs were fully accredited in 2018 and will be reviewed again in 2025.

The curriculum highlights how attention to reading can promote student progress in a range of subjects – some involving in-depth reading but without in-depth reading instruction. Educators from various parts of the state are enrolled in the program.

Denice Turner, coordinator of the Masters of Reading Education program at BHSU, noted that a deeper study of reading can help educators move beyond the issuance of homework and deepen the reading process.

“You are better able to help readers when you realize what cognitive movements (for reading) are,” she said.

Turner, speaking in his office recently, said the reading-focused master’s program is offered online to educators in a variety of positions. She said some of these educators may become reading specialists after graduating with their masters. And some, she said, may work in other positions, such as classroom teachers with the ability to serve as reading leaders within their districts.

For Harms, the goal is to become a high school English teacher next year, and then later to become a university English teacher.

Classroom work for master’s students, Turner explained, varies widely. This often involves exploring ways to help students dig into texts, and it also involves, she said, thinking about which texts to choose.

“One of the things our reading specialists do is think about alternative texts,” she said. “So I could pick a recipe from (J. Kenji López-Alt )’s site that basically shows the scientific method through burgers by talking about how proteins are broken down. “

Finding that alt text to engage students is something that Faye LaDuke-Pelster, director of the School of Education department at BHSU, said many teachers are more than willing to do.

“Teachers really go the extra mile to find texts that are relevant to their students,” she said.

Another key aspect of the program is the title of a course and an overall objective of the program: cultural and linguistic diversity. LaDuke-Pelster said the coursework assignments are designed to help master’s students – the educators themselves – serve the particular types of diversity they find among the students they teach.

“Graduate students are looking for different ways to teach reading to meet the needs of diverse learners in their classrooms,” she said. “It makes the course more meaningful. It’s not just a hoop (they jump) to complete the program.

LaDuke-Pelster said the encounter with students’ cultural and linguistic diversity can apply to many situations, including the work educators do with Indigenous students.

“We have applicants in our program who work with large populations of Indigenous students, so when we ask them to consider the students they work with, we hope the result will be more culturally appropriate education,” he said. she declared.

Turner also stressed the importance of including “different voices, different opinions, different perspectives” in the readings assigned to students.

Alisa Halleen, another graduate student working on her masters in the program, said the classes have helped her diagnose her students’ reading problems. Halleen works as a reading specialist with second grade students for the Sioux Falls School District.

“I just completed a (diploma) course called Assessment and Correction of Reading Difficulties,” she said, noting that the course had helped her diagnose students’ reading problems. Previously, if she noticed a struggling child, she might not have had a systematic method of figuring out what was at the root of it.

“I knew they were making mistakes, but now I can see why they are doing it,” Halleen said.

Harms also emphasized the importance of diagnosing student problems – something that graduate school, she explained, helped her do more insightfully.

“Some of the barriers to reading are related to the structure of the words,” she said. “Some students find it difficult to get the sounds of the letters to harmonize. “

Harms also noted other word-level issues, such as understanding the concept of rhyme or identifying word segments. A catalyst for improvement, she added, often lies in access to a wide selection of reading topics.

“What seems to work very well with them is just appealing to their interests,” she said. “I have a few readers who really like to read because there are books that appeal to their interests.”

Molly Connot, a BHSU master’s program student who teaches in fifth grade in the Winner School District, noted how reading difficulties can interfere with classes that do not involve teaching reading.

“In science, social science, and math, you don’t learn to read, you read to learn,” Connot said. “So if the students are not able to read and learn what they are learning, they are not able to understand the content of that topic. “

Focusing on word-level skills as well as motivation is key, she explained. The same is true of working with them shoulder to shoulder rather than from a distant podium.

“We’re working on it together,” Connot told his students. “Go ahead and try again.”

Halleen suggested that when students seemingly dislike reading, it is not necessarily reading that they dislike. It is the struggle.

“At first, they don’t like to read because it’s a struggle for them,” she says. “But once they’re introduced to different strategies and they realize that they can read words, then that excitement happens and they want to read.”

When these hurdles are overcome, she said, “This is the best part of my job, for sure. “

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