It started out as a small pilot program to enhance literacy skills and help prevent summer slide of elementary children. But when word spread about the successful summer tutoring initiative at the Southeast Regional Library, Jacksonville, FL, the classes grew, averaging nearly 75 students per class. The eight-week standards-based literacy program was the brainchild of Anita Haller, librarian senior, in partnership with Dr. Katrina Hall, an expert in children’s literature and teacher education at the University of North Florida.
The program was designed with a twofold purpose: To provide reading assistance and activities to engage the imagination and build literacy skills in children K-5; and to tap into the enthusiasm, skills and fresh ideas of 27 tutors, who, as UNF undergraduates in elementary education, could gain class credit and valuable hands-on experience toward their professional teaching careers.
Working with four or five students in a group, tutors made informal assessments and developed individualized activities based on standards in the areas of sight words, concepts of print, phonemic awareness/alphabet knowledge, comprehension, fluency, and writing. Parents were pleased with their students’ progress and saw tangible results. One parent said her child began writing original stories and poems. Others saw improvement in their students’ handwriting and vocabulary.
A public library tutoring partnership is a first for UNF. While the undergraduates in the Methods and Resources for Literacy Development course found real-life application for their teaching concepts, Dr. Hall said elementary students gained knowledge in the number of sight words learned, concepts of print, alphabet knowledge, letter/sound knowledge, writing ability, and comprehension as measured through graphic organizers. Overall, the pilot program was deemed a huge success, and the Jacksonville Public Library and UNF are already planning their next tutoring program.
Olga Bayer is the Community Relations Specialist at Jacksonville (FL) Public Library.
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