Literacy and Learning Roosevelt Summer Program Helps Children Become Lifelong Readers

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), July 26, 2017 | Go to article overview

Literacy and Learning Roosevelt Summer Program Helps Children Become Lifelong Readers


Roosevelt University professor Margaret Policastro had one vision in mind when she established the school's summer reading clinic at its Schaumburg campus: she wanted to make reading "joyful" so children would become lifelong readers.

The clinic wrapped up its 30th year this month, and its balanced literacy approach continues to inspire students and parents alike.

This summer's 35 students ranged in age from preschool through high school, consequently they broke into groups based on their ages and ability, with older students reading novels and nonfiction.

Policastro established the clinic as a practicum for teachers earning their graduate degree to become reading specialists. Graduate students still teach in the clinic and, consequently, it showcases best practices in literacy.

One of its success stories is Kristen Iverson, 18, of Mount Prospect, who returned the last two summers to volunteer at the clinic. She and her twin sister, Dana, attended the reading clinic from first through fourth grades.

Kristen said she remembers learning to love reading after a read-aloud session, when they read a book about cultures and proceeded to make one of the dishes described in the book. Another time, the group built a castle after reading about one in a book.

"It was so fun and interactive," she said. "I know we were working on reading, but it didn't feel like school."

That was the intent from the start, said Policastro, who wanted to establish a clinic that improved reading skills without all the constraints a school faces, such as high-stakes assessment tests and large student-to-teacher ratios.

Instead, she placed its emphasis on making reading fun and interactive. On a tour of the clinic, the energy and excitement was palpable.

Poster boards hung outside each classroom were filled with research students had compiled after reading interesting books. …

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