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School of Education Taking the Lead on Literacy

Teacher candidates participate in a workshop during orientation week.Students in Trent University's School of Education and Professional Learning rounded out their orientation week with unique literacy-based reading conferences specially designed for teacher candidates from all subject areas.

"They are the only teacher candidates in the whole province learning how to do this," says Deborah Berrill, director of the School of Education. "This initiative includes candidates who are going to be physics teachers, computer teachers and even chemistry teachers."

The two conferences – one for elementary and the other for secondary candidates – were held Friday, September 2.

The candidates learned how to do one-on-one tutoring with students identified as reading below their grade level.

"We're trying to stress, and the province is trying to stress, that literacy support is every teacher's responsibility," she said, adding that reading doesn't just include text books. "It can include reading graphs, timetables and maps."

The candidates also learned how to analyze students' written responses to reading passages through a moderated marking class.

"Across the province, much attention is being given to helping teachers ensure strong assessment practices. Part of that includes helping teachers become more consistent in how they do grading. This class is teaching candidates how to look at the writing their students will be submitting to them. It's really at the forefront in assessment practices and using assessment to inform instruction."

The material and techniques learned during orientation week are elaborated upon in the candidates' course work, said Berrill.

Orientation week kicked off two weeks before regular classes resumed at Trent.  This early start prepared candidates for their school placements with students which began this week.

"We need time to prepare the candidates so they are ready to go into the schools," said Berrill. "Early on we start talking about what it means to be a professional in the schools and what professional decorum involves."

During orientation week, there was a full run through of all the courses including Curriculum Foundation, Philosophy and Development of Socio-cultural Theory of Education.

According to Berrill, the candidates complete the equivalent of 4.5 full credits in four months. All courses are completed by February 3 when full-time candidates go into classrooms to teach for the remaining three months.

This year there are about 125 secondary candidates; 155 elementary candidates; and 155 part-time candidates, for a total of 435.

"We are delighted with the diversity of candidates," said Berrill. "Their heritages are much wider than we had initially realized -- and we're thrilled."

Photo: B.Ed. candidates Kelly King and James Harnish participate in a reading conference during orientation week.

Posted September 16, 2005
















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