“I’m all about teaching and teachers,” Carol Gilles, an associate professor in the college’s Learning, Teaching, and Curriculum Department, says when describing her dedication to literature, reading and oracy (talking to learn). Through a monthly Saturday Book Group, Gilles and her education colleagues read and review children’s books from publishers across the nation. Together, they prepare articles for publication that identify ways educators can use the books more effectively. In her work, Dr. Gilles has two goals: “to feed knowledge and strategies to current teachers and to prepare developing teachers with those same cutting-edge techniques.”
“Retrospective miscue” is a strategy used to improve reading. Through her publications, Gilles has made this strategy more accessible to current and developing teachers. Retrospective miscue analyzes the way children read by identifying for children which reading strategies are breaking down while also reinforcing their positive strategies. One step at a time, retrospective miscue guides teachers to better develop children’s reading skills.
Gilles also investigates how students’ speech can make their reading more critical. “Certain discussion strategies encourage thinking that uncovers deeper meanings in the text,” Gilles says. “Questions teachers ask scaffold children to get deeper and deeper into the text. When teachers ask the right questions at the right time, they further the students’ knowledge.”
According to Gilles, literacy is no longer culturally isolated. To ensure future educators are culturally aware, Gilles teaches a course in which College of Education students teleconference with a group from China. The group includes a professor and her class of pre-service English as a Foreign Language students and they discuss collectively various reading passages. “This cultural exchange gives students a picture of how culture colors everything and helps them think more deeply of how they can help children that do not read or write English, or have a different cultural background,” Gilles says.
To Gilles, “It is vital to the success of our children that educators be supported with the resources needed to improve students’ reading strategies. Current and developing teachers need to have knowledge of the latest reading techniques and an understanding of cultural influences in literacy.” After 20 years as an elementary and secondary special education teacher, Gilles now enjoys the broader impact of helping prepare all teachers through her work in higher education.