Every summer, eager K-8 learners join our master’s students for an innovative literacy program. You won’t find this unique practicum experience anywhere else.

Teacher and students in classroom

Practicum Experience: Summer Reading & Writing Workshop

As a graduate student in our online Master’s of Education (MSEd) degree program, you’ll benefit from a practicum experience that you won’t find in any other Literacy Education program. Our culminating practicum experience provides an opportunity for you to enhance and practice your literacy instruction skills.

You’ll work in-person or remotely with eager K-8 students who join us for an intensive reading and writing program aimed at improving their literacy skills. In addition to developing instructional and assessment practices, you’ll empower these learners by creating relationships, understanding their strengths, and illuminating the challenges they face. 

Our graduate students have varying backgrounds and professional objectives. The practicum experience is tailored to meet your unique goals and career plans. 

The six credit EDU 639 Practicum in Literacy Education includes both coursework and fieldwork. This culminating practicum experience requires a time commitment for both course work and field work. There are two options:

Option 1: Summer Practicum Experience

  • In-person (Gorham campus) annual Summer Reading and Writing Workshop
  • Timeframe is 4 weeks
  • Class time: 2 hours each week
  • Field work time: 20-25 hours each week
  • Course assignments and fieldwork lesson plan time: 15-20 hours each week 

Option 2: Academic Year-long Experience

  • Practicum runs fall through spring semesters
  • Field work: Synchronous (participate virtually)
  • Course time: Asynchronous (online asynchronous only)
  • Experience is on graduate students’ campus (we will partner with your principal and literacy coach)

University faculty provide guidance and support throughout the practicum experience. 

Before you begin the practicum, our faculty will work with you to set goals that are tailored to your career path. During the practicum you will:

  • Assess each K-8 student’s reading and writing strengths and challenges and set individual goals
  • Plan and provide daily reading and writing instruction
  • Support and motivate students to feel successful as readers and writers
  • Present and participate in professional development sessions
  • Work and learn with literacy coaches through observation, feedback, and one-on-one conferences
  • Practice coaching your colleagues in literacy instruction
  • Maintain an online portfolio of your work that supports the International Literacy Association’s Professional Standards

What Our Alumni Say

“The University of Southern Maine (USM) practicum experience was so valuable to my teaching. Having a chance to try out different techniques alongside amazing coaches helped me grow as a literacy teacher. The course made me more reflective and purposeful in my conferring and student goal setting. It was also nice to work with students who are in grades that are out of my comfort zone.”

— Chelsea Haffenreffer ’19, MSEd in Literacy Education 

“The practicum experience was beneficial because it prepared me, challenged me, and gave me confidence to pursue my goal of becoming a future literacy coach.” 

— Kiely Treschitta ’20, MSEd in Literacy Education  

“This summer practicum is so much more than teaching summer school; it offers professional educators the opportunity to do some deep thinking about their practices and reflect on what will best allow all students to do the work necessary to promote their own learning.”

— Kellie Hooper-Bressler ’17, MSEd in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages

Interested in signing up your K-8 student?

Review information for parents of K-8 students below:

For over fifty years, the University of Southern Maine (USM) Literacy Education Summer Reading & Writing Workshop has offered a space for elementary and middle school students to practice their literacy skills. Our unique model pairs USM graduate students with K-8 students who would like to become better readers and writers. The workshop is held during the day for four weeks each summer.

To participate, students must have already completed Kindergarten, and are generally accepted through the end of grade 8 (the summer before entering grade 9). 

K-8 students work with our graduate student tutors who are completing their master’s degree in Literacy Education. These graduate students are experts in literacy development and many are highly successful, experienced teachers and literacy coaches.. 

USM graduate students are required to assess the reading and writing development of their students and plan literacy programs based upon their needs and interests. They also model “strategic reading behaviors” and encourage their students to practice reading texts they will encounter in school. All phases of the instructional program are closely monitored by university faculty.

Students work in small groups with a tutor. With supervision from their tutors, children select their own books and decide on writing topics that have special interest for them. They receive lots of positive feedback. It is not unusual for some students to experience dramatic gains in their literacy over the summer. Students genuinely enjoy the summer experience and often regret when the program ends. 

Starting in 2022, there is a choice of in-person or remote/online participation in the program. See more details about each option in the subsections below.

On average, 1-2 students can be accepted for every graduate student tutor. The average enrollment is 10-15 students and 6-10 graduate student tutors.

The Workshop runs for four weeks.

  • In-Person Workshop: Monday – Thursday; 9:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m. each day on the USM Gorham campus.
  • Remote Workshop: Days/times vary on a case-by-case basis.

The in-person option includes time for independent reading and writing, transitions, and activities like visiting the on-site workshop library. Children must arrive promptly and be picked up on time. No absences are allowed. 

A great deal of preparation goes into every tutoring session. For this reason, we can only accept students who are willing to commit themselves for the four-week period. THERE CAN BE NO VACATIONS OR ABSENCES. The program requires a great commitment from everyone: faculty, tutors, students, and parents.

The 2023 Summer Reading & Workshop will run from June 26 through July 20 (except July 4), Monday-Thursday.

  • In-person Workshop: We will meet on the USM Gorham campus in Bailey Hall. The workshop will adhere to University requirements regarding precautionary measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19. We will provide details closer to the start of the workshop.
  • Online Workshop: Days/times vary on a case-by-case basis.
  • Tuition is $50 per student.

Student fees are used to purchase books and materials, including access to online e-reader libraries. Payment is due in June. More details will be sent via email if your child is accepted.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for Parents – Summer Reading & Writing Workshop

1. Will the 2023 Workshop be held in person or online?

  • The 2023 Summer Reading & Writing Workshop will take place in-person on the USM Gorham campus.
  • There may be remote options this year. Days/times vary on a case-by-case basis.

2. I would like to be notified as soon as the application process begins. What do I do?

  • Please contact us (see contact information at the bottom of the page) and let us know that you would like to be added to our email list. Please give us your name and the email address you would like us to use. We send out notifications regarding the workshop via our email list.
  • We strongly encourage teachers to join our email list, so that they can forward along the information to the parents of their students.

3. How do I get an application?

  • Applications are made available in February of each year for the upcoming summer. (See “Apply” section)

4. I would like all my children to attend the workshop. How do I apply for them all?

  • You can certainly apply for all of your children as long as they are in the K-8 grade range.
  • Just make sure that you completely fill out a separate application form for each child.

5. My child attended the workshop last year. Does that mean s/he will be automatically chosen?

  • We love to have children return to the Workshop! However, attending a Workshop does not guarantee placement in future Workshops. 
  • We ask that you complete the application and review process each year. 
  • Acceptance into the Workshop will be determined based upon the number of total spots available, which is dependent upon the number of USM graduate students who enroll in the practicum. This varies from year-to-year.

6. My child is a proficient reader. Is this Workshop appropriate for him/her?

  • Yes! We welcome K-8 readers of all levels and abilities. 

7. Is financial aid available?

  • We have a limited amount of financial aid. Please contact us for more information.

8. My child has been placed on a waitlist. What does that mean?

  • If you have been officially notified that your child is on the waitlist, then it means that there are no available seats left in the workshop. We maintain a waitlist and refer back to it if a child is withdrawn from the workshop and a seat becomes available. 
  • We will contact you directly if a seat becomes available.

9. My child has been accepted. What do I need to do now?

  • Upon acceptance, you will receive an email with important information, including the workshop schedule and the date and time of the Parent Orientation Meeting. 
  • You will also receive several forms to complete ahead of the Orientation or during that evening. Please save these materials for your records. 
  • If you cannot attend the Parent Orientation Meeting, please respond to your acceptance email so that we can make sure you have the information you need.

10. When is the Parent Orientation Meeting?

  • Once you have received notification that your child(ren) has been accepted into the program, you are asked to attend the Parent Orientation Meeting. 
  • The Parent Orientation Meeting will be held in Gorham and/or online, usually in the late afternoon/early evening in mid-June.

11. What is the daily schedule of the Workshop?

  • The in-person program is run from Monday through Thursday from 9:45 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.
  • Children must arrive promptly and be picked up on time. No absences are allowed.

12. Is there any transportation available? What about carpooling? Buses?

  • USM does not provide transportation. 
  • You will need to drop your child off and pick up your child daily at the designated area. 
  • There may be opportunities for carpooling with other parents during the course of the Workshop.

13. My child will be gone for a couple of days during the Workshop. Is this okay?

  • No absences are allowed during the Workshop. 

To apply, complete an application form for each child at the following link: https://forms.gle/jy82S6vM6FzQae5R7

Apply soon to help secure your child’s spot in the program, as the spots will be filled on a first come, first served basis. The team will review all applications after the deadline, and students who are a good fit for the program will be accepted based on when the application was submitted.

  • February 2023: Application period begins
  • March 10, 2023: Applications due; wait list begins as available
  • March 24, 2023: Acceptance notification will be sent via email by this date
  • May/June 2023: Parent Orientation Meeting and Child Assessments
  • June 26 – July 20, 2023: Workshop is held

Please Note: Course and workshop dates are determined, in part, by public school schedules. We have tentative dates for the beginning of the course and workshop, however these dates may change once we know when public schools will be closing.


Contact Julie Marsh, Assistant Director of Outreach and Coordinator of the Summer Reading & Writing Workshop
Phone: (207) 780-5400