Archived News | Return to News Center

October 22, 2009

Renowned literacy experts speak at new ULM Literacy Lab

The University of Louisiana at Monroe’s College of Education and Human Development unveiled the new Literacy Lab on Wednesday in Strauss Hall. The event featured nationally renowned literacy experts Drs. Cathi Collins Block and John Mangieri.

ULM Provost Stephen Richters began the event by expressing his pride in ULM’s faculty, who excel at training new teachers, an accomplishment noted in a 2008 New York Times article.

“The Literacy Lab is a fabulous resource for our region and for our teacher candidates. I know firsthand of the role played by trade books in developing literacy,” he said. “I recall my daughter, now a freshman in college, at the age of six. She patiently worked her way through the first Harry Potter novel.”

For guest speakers Block and Mangieri, both from the publishing company Scholastic Inc., the opportunity to speak at the lab’s opening was important. They praised the efforts of ULM faculty.

“Keeping information current so that all students have access to the latest research is crucial,” Block said. “With this lab, students are ahead of the curve.”

“Studies show that one aspect where [primary and secondary] students have the least confidence is in vocabulary,” Mangieri added. “We feel that this lab can give teachers significant information to improve their lessons not just for tomorrow, but for the foreseeable future.”

Dr. Beth Ricks, endowed professor in the College of Education and Human Development, helped develop the lab to serve as a hands-on teaching tool for students majoring in education.

“I noticed that students didn’t have a space to practice methods they were learning in our classrooms or create materials they could use in the field,” Ricks said. “It was a disconnect between practice and field work that needed to be resolved.”
By pulling from resources around campus, Ricks transformed a room into the Literacy Lab. Though she started with the idea, Ricks says the effort was a collaborative effort with the entire College of Education faculty.

“It really energized the department,” she added. “My colleagues gave above and beyond what I had requested.”

In partnership with Scholastic Inc., Ricks and faculty members throughout campus secured the latest technological resources, as well as emerging research on education from across curricula.

Wednesday’s presentation covered the latest research methods in helping teach vocabulary to students, giving teachers the edge they need to teach their students more effectively. Block and Mangieri said teachers could improve reading levels by more than two years for every semester spent employing the new methods they presented.

Block has authored more than 80 articles and books and is a Professor of Education at Texas Christian University. Mangieri is the author of “Elementary Reading: A Comprehensive Approach and Teaching Language Arts: Classroom Applications,” and is executive director of the Institute for Literacy Enhancement. He previously served as a reading representative on the U.S. Office of Education’s National Task Force on Urban Education.

About the ULM Literacy Lab:

Strong literacy skills impact an individual's ability to fully participate in society, understand public issues, and lay the foundation upon which labor market skills are built.

The complexity of today's world means that individuals need to have some level of proficiency in reading, mathematics and science in order to understand and participate fully in economic and social life – and the ability to raise proficiency levels in this area is directly related to our ability to produce outstanding educators.

The new Literacy Lab provides ULM students with a professional media lab/curriculum library where those students can extend their learning, plan their lessons, and have access to materials needed to fulfill Professional Block requirements, according to Beth Ricks, associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction.

The endowed professorship stipend will be used to purchase lab/library materials such as children's literature, subscriptions to Mailbox and Booklinks (classroom sources), computer stations, an electric subscription to a premier children's literature database, a subscription to, a laminating machine, literacy, math, and resource materials for lesson planning.

PLEASE NOTE: Some links and e-mail addresses in these archived news stories may no longer work, and some content may include events which are no longer relevent, or reference individuals and/or organizations no longer associated with ULM.