Students take literacy message to the streets

November 3, 2008

A field experience internship program in Arizona State University’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership (CTEL) is giving its students exposure to the importance of literacy in a child’s early years while also providing the professional development necessary for the next generation’s teachers.

The program, like many featured in the West campus college’s curriculum, is a hands-on, real-world experience.  This one, the Early Childhood Community-Based Field Experience internship, features a unique partnership with the Burton Barr Central Library in downtown Phoenix.  One opportunity, First Five Years/Book Bridges, places first-semester junior students in the library, providing one-to-one assistance to parents, families, and center caregivers utilizing the library’s space, materials, activities, and early literacy information.  Another internship, the Book Blast program, gives the students a chance to provide literacy support for school-age children in Phoenix Afterschool Center (PAC) program sites. Download Full Image

Maureen Gerard, CTEL’s director of professional field experience, says the internship closely mirrors the college’s mission of meeting the needs of all children.

“Our goal is to enlarge the horizon of our students so that they recognize that the walls of a classroom are very ‘permeable,’ and that teaching and learning begin with and include the larger community,” says the second-year director.  “This internship is thoughtfully aligned with our mission, and ‘all children’ includes those who are in foster care and in high-needs districts.”

The First Five Years/Book Bridges internship features students, “early literacy coaches,” assisting library staff with developing and displaying early literature information, interactive display materials, signs, and other marketing materials.  The coaches then conduct action research projects to determine the effectiveness of marketing in the First Five Years/Book Bridges space.  The projects may also identify the strengths and weaknesses of current displays and programming targeted for families using the space.  Some coaches also assist library staff with story hours, parent workshops, trainings, story times and baby times, and other early childhood programs.

“Early literacy interns work ‘in-house’ at the library, providing support and enthusiasm during heavily attended preschool-age storytime programs,” says Erin MacFarlane, Burton Barr assistant librarian.  “They develop valuable literature-based projects focused on early literacy traits to share with young children and parents visiting the First Five Years area of the library.

“Many families make a point of visiting the library when the interns are present because they particularly enjoy the activities the interns provide.”

The interns also visit Book Bridges library outreach sites where they observe and contribute to preschool-age storytimes provided in child care settings.

Among the PAC sites receiving CTEL student support are Valley View Elementary School in the Roosevelt School District, Desert View Elementary in the Washington Elementary School District, Griffith Elementary in the Balsz Elementary School District, and Maryland Elementary in the Washington School District.  PAC is a city-funded after-school and summer recreation program that provides a variety of age-appropriate developmental activities for children at 90 school-based sites throughout Phoenix.

Book Blast interns plan and present weekly storytimes and related activities for small groups of school-age children in a recreational program setting.  The interns are supervised by a PAC librarian at Burton Barr, and the library provides books, storytime materials, and related resources for the interns.  Book Blast interns meet weekly with the PAC librarian weekly and present Book Blast programs at two sites weekly.

“The student interns are wonderful,” says Librarian I for Outreach Beth Van Kirk at Burton Barr.  “They are higher education role models for children in our after-school programs.  Many of the children the interns work with are impressed and inspired by the fact the interns are attending college, and that college students are spending quality time with them.

“ASU interns bring enthusiasm, energy and creativity to their internships.  They are motivated and excited about their contact with children and by the practical experience they gain.”

One student, senior Danielle Gonzales, has participated in the Book Blast program, worked with preschool children in another block and first-graders in another, and also tutors two young students in reading and writing.

“Book Blast gives you the tools to create a fun literary experience,” she says.  “Doing this during my first block really helped me come out of my shell.  I learned lots of great songs and books, transitional techniques, and strategies to make reading fun.”

A graduate of Tolleson Union High School in 2004, Gonzales expects to receive her B.A. in early childhood education in May next year.

“The field experience internship program this college offers is so important because not only does it prepare you for teaching, it prepares you to be a leader in the field,” says Gonzales, who at the end of her Book Blast participation was offered a permanent position with the Phoenix Afterschool Center, filling her summers with storytimes and currently running a “Step Into Reading” site featuring a unique, leveled readers series that offers books at four carefully developed skill levels.  “The program has made my passion for teaching grow even stronger.  In each internship experience, I have met someone and learned something that has really touched me.

“This has given me a foundation to work with all ages, from birth to eight years, and in diverse settings.  I feel prepared for teaching and that I will be ahead of the average first-year teacher.”

The field experience program offered by the teacher ed college leads to a student teaching experience (Block IV) in two different settings – eight weeks in a pre-kindergarten classroom, and eight weeks in a kindergarten-third grade classroom.

“These opportunities for hands-on learning and experience are exposing tomorrow’s teachers to the roots of literacy,” says Gerard, adding, “They are also contributing to professional development in the field.”

For student Gonzales, the program is her first step into a career in teaching.

“I now feel confident that with a few years teaching experience I can be a leader in my field,” she says.  “I hope to further my education, specializing in early literacy, and I hope to create a literacy program and direct its implementation in a school district.”

Steve Des Georges

director strategic marketing and communication, Enterprise Marketing Hub


ASU-Southwest Poll releases results of 4-state survey

November 3, 2008

In spite of a grim economy, many Southwesterners in Arizona, Nevada, Texas and New Mexico are optimistic that conditions in the U.S. will improve over the next year, according to the Arizona State University-Southwest Poll released Oct. 30. The poll also shows that the race for the White House remains close. Poll results are available online at

The telephone poll, which was conducted by ASU’s Institute for Social Science Research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, asked more than 1,200 residents in the four Southwestern states their opinions on several issues, including the economy, jobs and the U.S. presidential race. Download Full Image

On the subject of the economy, 35 percent of the respondents say economic conditions in this country will be better a year from now, while 34 percent say they will be the same, and 25 percent say they will be worse. Six percent did not respond or didn’t know.

When asked about their family’s financial situation, nearly two-thirds (63 percent) say their family’s financial situation will improve in the coming year, while only 5 percent say it will get “a lot worse,” and another 17 percent say “a little worse.”

Looking at jobs, Southwesterners voice moderate concern about losing jobs and are confident they could find comparable jobs if they have to find other employment. Specifically, 39 percent were “very” concerned or “somewhat” concerned about losing their jobs in the next year or having their hours of work reduced, while 17 percent were “not too concerned” and 43 percent were “not at all concerned.”

When asked how confident they were that they could find other employment at a comparable rate of pay within a reasonable time, 66 percent were “very” or “somewhat” confident, while 33 percent were “not very” or “not at all” confident.

Yet, at the same time, most people say jobs are difficult to find, especially “good” jobs. Some 57 percent say jobs are difficult to find in their community, versus 32 percent who say there are plenty of jobs available. Another 11 percent did not answer or didn’t know.

When asked about “good” jobs, 72 percent say good jobs are difficult to find, while only 20 percent say there are plenty of good jobs available.

Southwesterners also were asked about the future of children in the U.S. Asked “When children today in the U.S. grow up, do you think they will be better off or worse off than people are now?” more than half (57 percent) say “worse off,” a third (33 percent) say “better off,” a few (3 percent) say the “same,” and the rest didn’t know or didn’t answer.

The Arizona State University-Southwest Poll was conducted by telephone Sept. 22 to Oct. 17 among a random sample of 1,208 adult residents in the Southwest United States (293 in Arizona, 190 in Nevada, 525 in Texas and 200 in New Mexico). The results from the full survey have a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.

It appears that Arizona State University is the only university in the Southwest region conducting a formal regional public opinion poll. Sample questions were submitted by faculty researchers. The polling questionnaire was compiled by the professional staff of experts at ASU’s Institute for Social Science Research in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The institute’s research facilities include a 17-station telephone interviewing facility with computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI) capability and silent monitoring. More information is available at