What is a Practicum?
Great question! I’ve used the term “practicum” in previous blog posts, and I always forget that not everyone knows what that is. I’m also reminded of that fact when I launch into a story about an experience in practicum to a group of friends without realizing they have no idea what I’m talking about until I slow down long enough for someone to interrupt. In short, a practicum is part of an education major’s curriculum at Vanderbilt in order to get hands-on experience in the classroom.
Practicums can vary from a case-study scenario where you work with one student for the whole semester, to a full-class lesson plan. Right now, for example, I’m in a case-study type practicum for my Introduction to Reading Assessment and Processes class. I work with one student whose name I cannot use for the sake of confidentiality. But I can tell you about him! He is in the second grade and he is learning English as a second language; his first is Arabic.
I absolutely love working with him and I love the school he goes to. Metro Nashville Public Schools school system is the perfect setting to get a wide range of experiences as a future educator; for example, about 98% of the families who attend the school I have practicum in now are of low socio-economic status, and almost all of the students are learning English as their second language, like the student for my case-study. The two most common first languages spoken in the school are Spanish and Arabic.
The types of activities I do with my student are reading books and lists while assessing things like site words, fluency, and reading comprehension. I started off the study by interviewing him about his feelings on reading. It was really interesting to see the thoughts of a second grade and, specifically, the second grader that I’ll be working with for the rest of the semester. It’s so cool that I’ll be learning in class how to assess a student’s reading level, and then I’ll actually get to do it the next week with a real student in a real school setting. It’s any future teacher’s dream! I’m constantly grateful for all that Peabody has provided me with so far, and I can’t wait for more practicums and experiences to come!
As a visual to support my love for Peabody, here’s an image that, basically, brags: