Medium 9781934009352

Power Tools for Adolescent Literacy: Strategies for Learning

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Are there students in your classroom who have hit the reading wall? Studies indicate comprehension regresses in many students once they reach middle school. Teachers need the right resources in their classrooms for engaging students in reading. This book is a veritable encyclopedia of literacy strategies secondary teachers can apply to all content areas immediately. It integrates key strategies, research from top literacy experts, and proven intervention practices.

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Chapter 1 Engaging the Adolescent Learner

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Adolescents entering the adult world in the 21st century will read and write more than at any other time in human history. They will need advanced levels of literacy to perform their jobs, run their households, act as citizens, and conduct their personal lives.

Richard Vacca

Visualize 20 sixth-grade math students sitting in small groups eagerly awaiting instruction. As you look around the room, you see the beginning of a wall exhibit labeled “Our Community Wall.” Even though it is only the third week of school, the wall displays many samples of student-generated work. Featured on the wall are math literacy timelines, vocabulary words, foldables on the topic of “High Points and Low Points in Math,” biographical poems that describe student learning styles, pictures of class teams, and many other examples of student work. Classroom norms and expectations are posted on the Class Routine Chart and the Effort T-Chart. The teacher steps to the front of the room and spends 1 minute referring to the Class Routine Chart and the Effort T-Chart to remind students of expected behaviors for safety and success. The students stand, smile at each other, and say, “I am glad you are here.” As they sit down, the teacher says:

 

Chapter 2 Empowering Strategic Learning

ePub

The empirical evidence for single strategy instruction (Duke and Pearson, 2002) is substantial and consistent: students who learn specific strategies can apply them, resulting in increased comprehension of the texts to which they are applied and transfer to the comprehension of new passages.

—Linda Darling-Hammond

Elizabeth Gregory routinely begins her classes each day with a 1-minute reading in which she models fluent reading and shares an excerpt from a book or other resource that she thinks might hook students into reading. It’s her own version of National Public Radio’s Moment in History. She understands the power of reading in learning history and tries to engage her eighth-grade students in reading daily—reading the social science textbook, newspapers, primary sources, and self-selected reading materials. However, Elizabeth observes that many adolescents struggle to make sense of challenging textbooks and to engage in sustained reading of lengthy texts. She’s heard other middle school teachers complain that their students lack motivation, perseverance, and skills to read, and she knows that most will often just give up and tell the students what they need to know.

 

Chapter 3 Building Comprehension

ePub

To read without reflecting is like eating without digesting.

—Edmund Burke

Ms. Hammond and Ms. Kersey are collaborative teachers in a seventh-grade inclusion classroom at Rogersville Middle School in Tennessee. They religiously model and coach their students on using the comprehension strategies, and they plan their lessons to identify and include thinking strategies before, during, and after reading. These teachers know they must ask students to use graphic organizers in order to maintain focus on and comprehension of challenging text. They often begin a unit of study by reading aloud a picture book that connects to their topic because these materials are motivating and efficient in use of time. To initiate the unit on the Civil Rights Movement, Ms. Kersey uses the Frayer Model to assess students’ knowledge and experience on segregation. She uses an enlarged graphic organizer on the whiteboard to record student responses of words they associate with segregation and examples of what segregation is and is not.

 

Chapter 4 Developing Vocabulary

ePub

Teaching vocabulary well is a key aspect of developing engaged and successful readers.

—Karen D’Angelo Bromley

A major challenge for Mr. Love in supporting all students’ success in learning ninth-grade science is the technical vocabulary essential for comprehending the science textbook. He accepts the fact that assigning the entire list of vocabulary words from the chapter is not effective, and selects and teaches a few words using direct instruction.

Before presenting new and challenging vocabulary from the science textbook, Mr. Love assessed his students’ prior knowledge of five key words related to the functioning of the kidney by asking students to rate their level of knowledge from “clueless” to “could teach it.” Finding that most students were unfamiliar with the words, he described the terms in user-friendly words, gave examples, and asked students to write descriptions of the terms in their own words in their academic vocabulary notebooks. Then he acted out the words using a nonlinguistic approach and graphics to illustrate the terms’ meanings. Next, students created their own pictures representing the new terms. A couple of the words were difficult for students to pronounce, but they were highly engaged with their vocabulary partners as they shared their definitions and pictures.

 

Chapter 5 Writing to Learn

ePub

Learn as much by writing as by reading.

Lord Acton

Meaning making is not a spectator sport. Knowledge is a constructive process; to really understand something each learner has to create a model or metaphor derived from that learner’s personal world. Humans don’t get ideas, they make ideas.

Art Costa

Several years ago, we received a call for help from a small school in a large suburban district. The school had been tagged “underperforming”; only 40% of the students passed the state achievement tests. The school received a grant for professional development, and the principal wanted us to help her close the gap between current instructional practices and research-based practices. Our data-digging classroom observations found that teachers relied on whole-class instruction, worksheets, minimal reading, and little or no reflective talk or writing about what students had read. After sharing our data with the faculty, we facilitated a goal-setting session and helped the staff identify the focus for their school-based professional development. The teachers decided they needed to learn more about how to increase time spent reading and writing, and how to connect the two in ways that would increase comprehension of all content areas.

 

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