Reading Specialist

Initial License

We get it. It’s a higher calling.

So says the circle of reading specialists with whom I have the honor to sit. We all nod, and lean in, to listen even closer than we already have been.

We get it—the nuances of language, vocabulary, phonics, and phonemes. We arrive at vastly different schools each day, armed with an intricate toolbox filled with tricks up our sleeves to tackle the complexities of comprehension and fluency.

There’s more to it, though. We all responded to a higher calling to do this work. We want to make the world a better place, student by student, by empowering them with literacy. Literacy is far more than the ability to read and write. Literacy is an interwoven part of our identities as humans. To be literate in American culture means to be able to read our texts, and to read the world, in critically engaging ways, so that we can be effective, contributing members of our communities. We owe that to our students.

If you share these passions and beliefs, please join us at American International College to obtain your graduate degree in Reading.

Mission

All of the work in the Reading program at American International College is rooted in critical and emancipatory pedagogy, founded on the notion that education should play a role in creating a just and democratic society. Critical theorists argue that literacy is not only the ability to understand and construct textual meaning, but also a means through which individuals participate in constituting themselves and their worlds. Literacy is not just a skill to be taught, but instead is an interwoven piece of one’s identity as an individual.

Literacy matters in different ways to different people, based on the role of literacy in the person’s life. Graduates of our program possess a deep understanding of the theories and tools necessary to transform schools, communities, and the broader society.

Program Overview

The core of the reading program trains students to use scientifically based research strategies while in the roles of reading teacher and diagnostician, writing instructor, and literacy leader/coach. Students apply theory in their courses as they complete projects designed to help them to synthesize literacy skills related to teaching, assessing, collecting, and analyzing data while designing programs to meet individual and group needs. Key assessments and instructional approaches to meet the needs of ELL students and other diverse learners are threaded throughout each course. Twenty-first century skills are woven into the program through internet inquiry based projects and use of key diverse media and technological tools. Candidates are required to shadow a reading specialist for 30 hours prior to the practicum.

The program is composed of three major elements: the theoretical perspective that explores the process of reading as it relates to the other language components of listening, speaking, and writing in regular education; the diagnostic component that gains insight into a child’s reading process through indepth training in literacy assessments and analysis; and an application component, in which research and assessment data are related to practice. Reading-strategy instruction will be applied and refined in direct contact with children. A variety of print, technology, and other media will be incorporated into the format of each course. All candidates (even veteran teachers) must successfully pass the Communication and Literacy portions of the MTEL and the Reading Specialist MTEL prior to completing a 150-hour practicum in a school under the supervision of a college supervisor and supervising practitioner. Successful completion of the licensure program will entitle candidates to be endorsed for Initial licensure as a reading specialist for all levels in Massachusetts. There is a non-licensure opportunity for those not seeking the license. Students completing the non-licensure option are not required to complete the MTELs.

Program Delivery & Start Times

This program is cohort-based. In general, you will meet one night a week from 4:30 – 9:15 pm, finishing a three credit course every 8 weeks. New cohorts begin in the spring and fall semesters. Spring cohorts (January) enroll students in Medford, Springfield, Weymouth, and Worcester locations. Fall cohorts (August) enroll students in East Bridgewater, Fall River, Lawrence, Marlborough, Norfolk and Wakefield locations.

Program Length

Licensure Track

The licensure track program plan has been designed to be completed in two years for a total of 33 credits. This includes a 150 hour practicum in an approved Massachusetts public school setting as well as an SEI course. Candidates seeking endorsement for initial teacher licensure must successfully complete the course sequence and submit passing scores on all required MTEL sections prior to entering their final practicum experience.

Non Licensure Track

The non-licensure track program plan has been designed to be completed in two years for a total of 30 credits. This includes a field-based research course as the culminating experience.

What I realized after a few courses was that my mindsight had shifted from merely survive to thrive as the case studies, book reviews, and readings came to life in interviews, professional development days, and in my very classroom.

2014 Graduate,
Brittany Giambrone

What You'll Learn

Learn how reading relates to listening and speech, how a child’s reading process works, and how research and assessment of data is related to hands on teaching.

Future Studies

Successful completion of the Reading Specialist program includes studies under the supervision of a college supervisor and supervising practitioner.

Career Opportunities

Successful candidates are endorsed for a Massachusetts initial license as a reading specialist for all levels, as well as elevation to a Professional level license after three years of teaching under an initial license, and a non-licensure opportunity.

  • EDU 5703: Advanced Developmental Reading
  • EDU 5715: Speech and Language Development
  • EDU 5725: Specialized Practices in Reading
  • EDU 5815: Advanced Analysis of Reading and Language Arts
  • EDU 5850: Effective Literacy Coaching Strategies to Improve Student Achievement
  • EDU 6244: Organization, Administration, and Supervision of Reading Program
  • EDU 6345: Teaching Language Arts and the Writing Process

 

Required Field Experience

Prior to taking EDU 6547 there is mandatory Practicum Orientation Session

  • EDU 6547: Children’s and Adolescent Literature
  • EDU 6625**: Structured English Immersion (SEI) Content for English Language Learners
    ** Licensure candidates will have to either take EDU 6625 or provide evidence to AIC that they completed recent training in Sheltered English Instruction for English Language Learner students in their school district, or have passed the SEI MTEL or hold a valid ESL license.

Choose one as appropriate:

  • EDU 6649: Field-Based Research (Non-Licensure)
    or
  • EDU 6849: Practicum in Reading

Master of Education degree or CAGS degree awarded.
Total Credits: (30-33)

For more details view the Reading Specialist curriculum map.

Course Descriptions

This course provides an overview of literacy development for K-12 students. Current research related to the five components of reading and effective literacy instruction for English Language Learners (ELLs) will be reviewed. Potential impact of poverty on students’ readiness for learning to read will be discussed. Issues related to brain-based reading and language development and acquisition will be introduced. An in-depth study of scientifically-based instructional approaches and assessment practices related to phonological awareness, phonics and advanced decoding will be presented and will serve as the foundation for designing differentiated instruction to meet the needs of diverse learners. Students will be required to collect, analyze and interpret data for their case study students using specific literacy assessments appropriate for first and second English language learners. Using the Universal Design Model, students will develop an instructional plan for their case study students. 21st Century internet research approaches will be presented to hone students’ understanding of how to implement effective instruction for primary, elementary and adolescent readers.

Course materials relate to each of the components of reading and to the writing process. Research-based language and literacy instructional approaches will be studied. Stages of first and second language development will be presented and special attention will be paid to the needs of English language learners and diverse populations in relation to each of the elements of language (phonetics, morphology, semantics, syntax, discourse and pragmatics). Language-based disabilities will be studied in terms of their impact on literacy development. Assessment approaches will be presented as they relate to diagnostic techniques and remedial instructional strategies. Program development and evaluation will be discussed in terms of language and literacy components. Issues related to the historical roots of English and dialect will be explored in terms of their potential impact on student performance. Students will utilize recommended websites while studying language development and literacy connections. Using Universal Design methods, they will apply their newly gained knowledge as they develop instructional plans for students who need reading remediation due to language difficulties that relate to literacy.

A survey of current research and theories of literacy development will be presented. An in-depth study of scientifically-based instruction related to vocabulary, fluency and comprehension will be presented and the relationship between effective language and writing development and reading will be explored. This course provides the student with knowledge of significant programs and practices for teaching reading and language arts to diverse populations including English language learners, young children, adolescents and students with special needs. Students will gain proficiency in using specific reading strategies through modeling lessons and analyzing student work. Screening and diagnostic assessments will be used to identify specific strengths and weaknesses of struggling, proficient and advanced readers by analyzing and utilizing collected data. 21st Century inquiry approaches will be emphasized when teaching comprehension and writing connections and specific Web 2.0 tools will be recommended to aid remediation. The selection and use of appropriate programs, materials, and technology will be central to addressing the diverse needs in today’s classroom.

Through use of informal and formal assessments, students will learn how to effectively collect, analyze, and interpret data, as well as plan appropriate programs for diverse populations such as special needs students, English language learners and struggling readers. RtI, intervention approaches and progress monitoring strategies are studied in light of scientifically based reading research on effective literacy instructional practices for struggling readers. Training will include methods to evaluate and select the best literacy assessments to diagnose specific reading difficulties and ways to use technology to aid in data collection and analysis. While working on case studies, students will learn how to develop a hypothesis, develop assessment and progress monitoring plans and analyze data. Using Universal Design, students will create an instructional plan which includes a method to determine their students’ responses to intervention.

This course prepares students to assume literacy coaching responsibilities in a school. Research theory related to effective models for coaching teachers, school reform and professional development will be applied throughout the course as students plan literacy professional development modules designed to improve student achievement and teacher capacity to meet the needs of all learners.

This course prepares students to assume responsibilities for literacy programs in K-12 diverse (urban, suburban, and rural) K-12 school districts. Students will investigate research-based approaches to system-wide development of curriculum, instruction, and assessment in literacy (listening, speaking, reading, writing, and thinking).  In addition, students will examine methods and materials employed by literacy leaders to train teachers and administrators in differentiated practices that meet the needs of diverse learner populations (English language learners, special education students, students with a 504 plan, and enrichment students). Training in the design of targeted professional development programs will incorporate the principles of Universal Design and the framework for, 21st Century learning.  Students will work in study groups and will be afforded the opportunity to analyze and interpret data sets and work samples. Theory and competency training related to being an effective literacy supervisor, consultant, in-service trainer, coach and mentor will be utilized during case study work throughout the course. Effective methods for supporting school-wide literacy improvement, evaluating literacy programs and assessments and implementing RTI (Response to Intervention) will be presented. Use of technology will be required as part of the students’ final project. PREREQUISITES: Enrollment in the Reading Specialist Program.

This course prepares students to plan specific practical strategies for challenging and extending student writing, spelling, and grammar usage. Students will be training in utilizing data from writing assessments in order to better plan instruction for diverse learners and for promoting 21st Century critical thinking and research skills when reading and writing. Specific consideration will be paid to instructional methods that are effective for English language learners including use of technology and Web 2.0 tools. The relationship between reading, language and writing skill development will be studied. Universal Design will be utilized when planning instruction for a case study student. Effective approaches for standards-based writing instruction will be studied. Students will be encouraged to use specific web-resources to expand their knowledge of the needs of writers from all grade level and to use technological resources to motivate student writers.

This course involves a general study of the field of literature for children and adolescents in addition to promoting students’ love of reading. Research theory related to engaging struggling or reluctant readers and increasing accessibility to literature for English language learners will be reviewed and applied while working on projects. Critical criteria for selection of picture books, multi-cultural literature and books from different genre will be studied. Texts will be discussed in terms of genre, literary elements, author’s craft, cultural themes and integration into the curriculum. Foundation knowledge from EDC 498 and EDC 545 related to English language learners, struggling readers and writers, comprehension, vocabulary, and using assessment data to determine reading level will be applied when discussing all topics. Emphasis will be placed on the integration of pairing expository texts with fiction and embedding instruction in reading comprehension strategies while exploring literature. Multi-cultural curriculum projects will require students to use Universal Design and to synthesize knowledge gained in current and prior courses. 21st Century inquiry and technological skills will be employed while utilizing website and Web 2.0 tools to deepen K-12 students’ engagement with text.

This course will provide a comprehensive model for instruction for preparing teachers to work with English language learners, (PreK-12) in all classrooms. Using a structured immersion approach (SEI), such as the SIOP Model, students will practice the cycle of assessment, lesson design and implementation of instructional strategies that provide access to grade level content for ELL learners. Students will plan, design and present a model lesson following the SIOP Model.

Students majoring in one of the above specialty areas may opt for the appropriate field experience which will satisfy the degree requirement for a culminating experience. Candidates will have the opportunity to delve into data collection and analysis, designing program for diverse populations, technology, developing 21st century skills, as examples, and/or other principles learned in their coursework to the end of increasing student achievement in the classroom. An action based research project is the central activity for this course. Employed teachers may utilize their own classrooms for this culminating experience [40 clock hours per credit]. Students who complete their degree with this culminating project are not eligible for licensure as a teacher or administrator in Massachusetts nor will they receive the NASDTEC stamp for reciprocity with other states.

The practicum for initial licensure as a Reading Specialist in MA for those employed in the field involves 150 hours of teaching under the direction of a college supervisor and a supervising practitioner in a school setting. A program portfolio and additional paperwork to meet state regulations is required.

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