Meet Alex Frelinghuysen and Colleen McGlynn, Middle School faculty and instructors of “Syllables are the Key: The Basics of Language Structure and Syllabication."
1. Tell us more about your professional background.
Alex Frelinghuysen: I earned my bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish from Skidmore College and my master’s degree in Secondary English Education from Teachers College at Columbia University. Following my graduation from Teachers College, I started working at Windward in the fall of 2012. I currently teach seventh and eighth grade language arts.
Colleen McGlynn: For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a teacher. I attended Manhattan College where I received my undergraduate degree in Secondary Education with a concentration in Social Studies. While discussing my future with a professor, he suggested I apply to Windward because he had heard about Windward’s dedication to professional development. In my second year at Windward, I enrolled at LIU and received a master’s degree in Adolescent Special Education. Windward’s commitment to professional development allows me to continue to grow and develop as a teacher.
2. How has explicit instruction in syllabication strategies helped you as a teacher and supported your students?
Alex Frelinghuysen: I learned a lot in grad school, but explicit instruction in syllabication strategies was never presented in any class I took. I was enrolled in a required course called “The Teaching of Reading” in which we talked a lot strategies such as how to engage students in reading, how to enhance class discussions, and how to create effective assignments. I remember thinking, This is all great, but how do we actually teach kids to read words off a page? I did not get an answer to that question until I came to Windward and began taking courses through The School’s Teacher Training Program and The Windward Institute.
For the first time, I learned about explicit instruction in syllabication strategies and more importantly, I saw it being put into practice in my mentor teachers’ classrooms. I was able to see how our students—many of them struggling readers—needed to be taught in order to improve their reading skills. Years of learning about syllables has helped me immensely as a teacher. When students are reading aloud and struggling to decode a word, I can support them by prompting them with a syllable type or helping them apply syllabication strategies.
"[In grad school,] I remember thinking, This is all great, but how do we actually teach kids to read words off a page? I did not get an answer to that question until I came to Windward and began taking courses through The School’s Teacher Training Program and The Windward Institute."
Colleen McGlynn: Explicit instruction in syllabication strategies profoundly changed my perspective as a reader and as a teacher. Instead of seeing one long scary multisyllable word, now I see individual syllables and I teach my students to do the same. Students have clear strategies they can apply to help them decode words. Reading is no longer a guessing game for my students.
3. What do you hope participants will gain from your workshop?
We hope participants will recognize the importance of syllables! So much literacy research supports the explicit instruction of syllable types and syllabication strategies, but it isn’t implemented enough outside of special education environments. As a result, many students struggle to read once they reach the older grades. For participants who are familiar with syllables, I hope this course gives them more confidence to incorporate explicit instruction into all of their lessons. Even for the most veteran teachers, I find it helpful to periodically review the syllable types and syllabication strategies so that I can continue to best support my students. Participants will many strategies that they can bring to life in their classrooms to help their students become confident, successful readers.
"Participants will many strategies that they can bring to life in their classrooms to help their students become confident, successful readers."