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M.Ed Candidate Develops Summer Literary Activities for Children

08/30/17

Ciera OBrienA third grade teacher at Conte Community School in Pittsfield, Ceira O’Brien ’17 of Adams, Mass., is just one of the many educators in the area who are enrolled in MCLA’s Master’s of Education program. Also working on her Reading Specialist License, this summer she created lessons for youngsters to help improve their literacy skills while school was out.

The capstone project – a series of activities used by pre-K through second grade students to develop and practice literacy skills – served to help families to provide their pre-K through Grade 2-aged children with academic practice during the summer break.

“It needed to be fun, low pressure, and easy to use for parents,” O’Brien explained. Because some students do not engage in academic activities over the summer months, they may lose much of what they've gained the previous school year, she added.

“This causes a gap in reading achievement, especially because many studies show that students with low socioeconomic status typically do not engage in any summer academics. At the same time, students with high socioeconomic status are more likely to read and attend academic programs over the summer,” O’Brien said.

The lessons she created are accessible to all children and their parents through a series of videos she posted on YouTube. No purchases are necessary to engage in the activities, and all of them may be done from home.

“My favorite activity is based on sight word practice,” O’Brien explained. “I included lists of sight words from K-2 that students should be able to read upon sight, without sounding them out, and provided several ideas for how students could practice.”

Some of those ideas included art, as the children engaged in activities that utilized sidewalk chalk and watercolors.

In addition, “I wrote the words on cups and brought them to the Wellness Fair, where students enjoyed reading the words and stacking the cups to make tall towers,” O’Brien added. “This is an activity the students did in my class as well, and it was always a favorite.” 

She will graduate this winter. Her capstone class, which took place over two semesters, was “very special,” O’Brien said. “We went from walking into class and mentioning some possible topic ideas to viewing the presentations of our final projects. The support that we had for each other was so incredible. We were able to vent our frustrations, celebrate our successes, and ultimately learn a lot about each other and our interests.” 

“I've had some really wonderful professors during my time at MCLA,” she added. “During my capstone, my professors were incredibly helpful in shaping my project and making it more meaningful.”

O’Brien recommends MCLA’s M.Ed program to others: The professors at MCLA really care about their students and go above and beyond to provide us with an incredible education while being sensitive to our other commitments such as work, family, and other classes.” 

To view O’Brien’s videos, go to: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEiVut7mw2_4beovsSMk3HA.