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Young readers find golden tickets

CMU education students rework classic tale to teach reading skills

Contact: Heather Smith

​Five Central Michigan University students created a sweet way for kindergarten through seventh-grade children to develop their reading skills at CMU's Summer Reading Clinic.

It all was about the chocolate, golden tickets and Willy Wonka.

The teacher education students served as clinic tutors and rewrote a reader's theater script for "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." This ensured each of the 15 children at the clinic were cast in roles that catered to individual reading development needs.

For more than four decades, the Summer Reading Clinic has helped to bridge the gap between school years for children with reading difficulties. These challenges include retelling or retaining information, interpreting what is read and understanding the meaning of words.


Reading lines in the script, adapted from the classic 1964 children's story by British author Roald Dahl, was woven into the daily lesson plans. The three-week clinic was hosted at Ganiard Elementary School in Mount Pleasant, Michigan. It concluded with a "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" performance for the children's families, friends and teachers.

"With so many children at different reading levels, we needed something big that would reach them all," said Myranda Adamick, a Traverse City, Michigan, senior who tutored the second- and fifth- through seventh-graders. "When we found this script, we knew we could make it work, and it would make learning fun for the kids."

Teachable moments for teachers

Reading is the foundation of all learning, said Kolleen Homuth, teacher education and professional development faculty member and Summer Reading Clinic director. But the learning at the clinic goes beyond the children. CMU teacher education students get experience in developing lesson plans, teaching classes, interacting with children and performing assessments.

This intensive experience Stewart-embed.jpgenabled the students to see the ins and outs of life as a teacher, said Miranda Steward, a Charlotte, Michigan, senior who tutored the kindergarteners and first-graders. She explained teachers have to be on their toes every day trying to decide the best techniques to boost learning.

"We often go home thinking of what strategies or activities to jump into the next morning. I've definitely tried many strategies and failed, but I've also tried many things and succeeded," Steward said. "I've had to really learn to be flexible, understanding, humble and more. Yes, it can be stressful and overwhelming, but it is so worth it."

One such worthwhile moment happened for Steward in the final week when a student showed remarkable progress in her reading assessment. This provided Steward proof that she succeeded as a teacher because the student was making great strides and enjoying herself.

"I admit that I found myself misty-eyed and trying to hold it together while she finished off her work because I was filled with such an intense sense of pride," Steward said. "I realized that if I'm going to get teary like that every time, I've got an awfully emotional, but totally worthwhile, career ahead of me."

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