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2010 News Releases

Longwood Summer Literacy Institute draws 175 from around the state

July 22, 2010

Dr. Tim Rasinski, a specialist in reading fluency, speaks to Longwood’s Summer Literacy Institute Dr. Tim Rasinski, a specialist in reading fluency, speaks to Longwood’s Summer Literacy Institute

Some 175 educators from across the state recently attended Longwood University's seventh annual Summer Literacy Institute.

The keynote speaker for the Institute, held July 15-16, was Dr. Tim Rasinski, a specialist in reading fluency who is a professor of literacy education at Kent State University, who spoke on "From Phonics to Fluency to Proficient Reading." Another major speaker, and one of several workshop presenters, was nationally prominent storyteller Dylan Pritchett of Williamsburg, much of whose work features African and African-American folk tales.

The Institute is offered by the Literacy & Culture and School Library Media programs, both of which are graduate programs in the College of Education and Human Services. Topics that were covered include reading aloud, storytelling, fluency, booktalks, oral tradition, group writing, and readers' theatre. Some of the presenters are Longwood graduate students or recent alumni.

"The emphasis this year was on speaking, listening and viewing, which also is a part of literacy," said one of the co-directors, Dr. Jeannine Perry, assistant dean of the College of Graduate & Professional Studies and associate professor and coordinator of the Literacy & Culture Program. "This year's theme was 'Literacy Out Loud.' Literacy involves reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing.'"

The other co-director is Dr. Audrey Church, associate professor and coordinator of the School Library Media Program. "It's not a reading conference, it's not a writing conference, and it's not a library conference," she said. "It's a literacy conference. Each year we focus on a different facet of literacy. Last year's theme was 'Literacies for 21st Century Learners.'"

Other members of the Institute planning committee included Dr. Gretchen Braun, associate professor in the Literacy & Culture Program, and Frances Reeve, associate professor in the School Library Media Program.

Educators who attended included classroom teachers, librarians, reading specialists, and administrators. They came from as far away as Warsaw, several localities in the Tidewater area, and Stafford, Augusta, Halifax and Southampton counties. This was the third year that the Institute, originally one day, has been two days. Participants receive breakfast and lunch both days and are given a CD with bibliographies from all the presentations. "We're starting to get a repeat group," Perry said.

Two current graduate courses at Longwood, in which 55 students are enrolled, are connected to the Institute. One is a special topics course team-taught by Church and Perry, and the other, taught by Perry and Braun, is the capstone course in the Literacy & Culture Program. Students in both classes attended the Institute, and students in the latter course, which is for reading specialists, helped coordinate the event.

"The Institute," said Church, "offers great professional development opportunities, good food, networking, and a chance to hear from experts in the field, and it showcases the Longwood campus."