Teaching Reading - NYU Summer Session 2012
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Teaching Reading - NYU Summer Session 2012
How do we "work backwards" with adolescents who have not acquired sufficient literacy skills to keep up with their grade level curriculum?
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Top Ten Practices for Principals to Promote Literacy in School

Top Ten Practices for Principals to Promote Literacy in School | Teaching Reading - NYU Summer Session 2012 | Scoop.it

This blog post describes ten ways a principal can create a culture of literacy in their school. The author is a principal in a middle school and offers practical approaches to building a better culture around literacy with adolescents.

 

One suggestion that is particularly interesting is that he challenges educators to reject texts that "aren't working" or are too difficult or not interesting to the students. He suggests selecting texts as a school or as a teacher that will be be high-interest for the students. He also suggests combining reading aloud with writing in response to reading, fostering a culture of understanding reading as a thinking process, interacting with the text instead of simply reading the words of a text. 

 

This perspective is important when considering the challenge that many educators face in "working backwards" with litearcy because it is a "top down" approach, starting with the principal, thereby making it an entire school effort. This is an approach rooted in changing the culture of reading and students' experience and attitude toward reading schoolwide. 

 

Teachers and principals must know the challenges that their schools face and work together to address those challeneges for a more effective approach. If only one teacher is applying these ideas to the classroom, it will likely create a much smaller effect in students than if the entire school is on board with promoting literacy and focusing on teaching reading through content, not separately, but as a part of the curriculum.

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SERP | Word Generation

This website is for a program designed to focus specifically on building vocabulary for literacy in adolescents through cross-curricular programs, connecting words through content. It is a program that provides schools with valuable words for literacy and multiple contexts through which students can begin to understand them. It is a program that, "incorporates research-based principles of vocabulary learning, such as the need for multiple exposures to target words over several days and within different contexts—an approach that can be difficult to honor in traditional vocabulary curricula" (Serp).

 

This seems like a valuable strategy for addressing comprehension problems in that it builds a strong vocabulary for word recognition and understanding by connecting the curriculum to the vocabulary. It is an effort that is echoed in each and every classroom and encourages teachers to work together to build curriculum and promote literacy through word study. This program acknowledges the individuality of learners, stating, "a single program cannot address all the literacy needs of adolescent readers. However, programs targeting this population should be appropriate for the reading levels of the students involved and should allow for different learning styles, abilities, backgrounds, and interests" (Serp). Utilizing vocabulary study is one way of narrowing the enormous task of teaching literacy by focusing on one specific skill set for building better literacy. 

 

This approach addresses the challenge of "working backwards" by building a curriculum around potential literacy struggles in students, such as vocabulary. The content reflects the student needs in terms of literacy development. I can see this approach translated to address different issues, such as comprehension, spelling, etc. However, I think that for this strategy to work, the needs of the students must be taken into account, meaning educators must know where to concentrate their effort, which may not be in vocabulary study, but instead, fluency, or decoding. While vocabulary study is always valuable for reading, it may not be the largest issue students are struggling with in terms of their literacy development. Whatever the skill to be developed, if all teachers are on board with attacking the issue the likelihood of creating change is much stronger because students experience a variety of strategies and approaches to learning these skills, providing them multiple points of entry to the curriculum. 

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WritingToRead_01.pdf

This article explores the benefits of using writing as a tool to develop and advance adolescent literacy, urging schools to include writing instruction as a part of a strong curriculum that provides students with stronger literacy skills. Through specific writing techniques, students can begin to better understand reading as an active skill for communication rather than a passive one.

 

The article focuses on writing in response to texts, writing to create students' own text, and increasing the amount of writing that students are doing. The article provides statistical evidence for the evidence that these strategies improve reading skills, however, they also seem to function as ways for students to have a more personal relationship with texts and individualize their experiences in the classroom, effective strategies for meaningful learning. 

 

This strategy of personalizing reading through writing also effectively accomplishes teaching writing skills along with developing reading skills, allowing teachers to kill two birds with one stone. This approach is also useful across subject areas, allowing teachers throughout a school ways to promote literacy through writing. Through focusing writing on the content area texts, students are developing literacy while learning content. 

 

While often times writing about texts takes shape in the form of essays, the article provides other strategies, such as guided journal writing. It seems important to provide students a variety of ways to respond to or create their own writing, instead of focusing simply on the essay structure. In this way, students again, have access to more points of entry with the text.

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Hirsch.pdf

This article focuses on the root cause of adolescents getting through school unable to master reading comprehension, pointing the finger to background knowledge. Hirsch suggests a common background knowledge for all students will aid in a more uniform development of children in school. Hirsch suggests that through creating this common core of knowledge in students we may be able to avoid such disparities in reading levels in later years.

 

It is important to provide adequate background knowledge for students who are struggling readers, and figuring out what background knowledge they are missing. While a common core of knowledge for all students seems problematic in that it is very prescriptive and potentially unrealistic, it is important to consider the value of all students entering a classroom with the same background knowledge, or at least having been exposed to the same curriculum. Hirsch (2010) states, "If states would adopt a common core curriculum that builds knowledge from grade to grade, reading achievement would rise for all groups of children. So would achievement in math, science, and social studies, because, as common sense predicts, reading is strongly correlated with the ability to learn in all subjects" (p. 36).

 

While Hirsch (2010) promotes the explicit teaching of literacy across subject areas, stating "integration of subject-matter content in reading classes enriches background knowledge and englarges background knowledge and englarges vocabulary in an optimal way, I think this idea of the common core would be more valuable if applied specifically to literacy skills rather than the background knowledge and content of those subject areas (p. 33). I believe the curriculum of the classroom, the content of the classroom, is influenced by the students in the classroom and cannot be prescribed nation-wide, state-wide, or even district-wide. The texts teachers choose for the classroom must depend and be influenced by the students' experiences, backgrounds, interests, etc. However, all teachers can work together to promote literacy across all subject areas, reinforcing valuable skills and providing students with an array of strategies to aquire those skills.

 

 

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LEARN NC :: The Well: Carolina research for your classroom » Blog Archive » Struggling in silence: A look at struggling adolescent readers

LEARN NC :: The Well: Carolina research for your classroom » Blog Archive » Struggling in silence: A look at struggling adolescent readers | Teaching Reading - NYU Summer Session 2012 | Scoop.it

This article talks about the existence of a "reading identity" with students and promotes teachers to discover what their "reading identities" may look like as a way to better understand the students. The author suggests a more complex story exists specifically for "silent" students who may seem disengaged, stating that they may be embarrassed or unsure of their reading skills and use silence as a protective barrier.

 

While her suggestions for the classroom are not groundbreaking by any means, the idea of understanding the complexity of a student's identity and attitude toward the act of reading are very important to consider as factors that influence their expreience with reading and learning. It seems important for teachers to try to understand students' reading identities, instead of simply focusing on their skill set or reading level. I think this is also important to consider when working with adolescents with whom a teacher may have to "work backwards" in terms of building literacy skills. Understanding the issues they may be facing with reading can help lend insight into what strategies would be useful to promote the development of their literacy.

 

Another important takeaway from this article is the idea of understanding reading as a dialogue, or something active. This is important to consider with adolescents because it is an understanding that is based on the text as something an individual interacts with in their own personal way. This can allow adolescents, people who are working on developing their individuality and identity to explore their literacy through interacting with texts in their own individualized way. Instruction, therefore, should focus on this personal relationship being developed with texts because it allows for a deeper connection to the text and specifically responds to some of the needs of adolescents. 

 

 

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Adolescent Literacy: What's Technology Got to Do With It? | Adolescent Literacy Topics A-Z | AdLit.org

This article discusses the positive impact technology can have for adolescents struggling with literacy, specifically citing online resources as well as ways in which these specific resources can aid in developing adolescent literacy skills. Specifically providing suggestions for using technology to help struggling readers, whether they be "regular"students, those with learning disabilities or English Language Learners. 

 

One interesting suggestion was utitlizing technology as digital texts as well as using Text-to-Speech technology. This would function similarly to a read-aloud strategy to aid in comprehension, but adds a level of independence, while incorporating the use of media and technology in the classroom, allowing the teacher to accomplish more than just reading comprehension skills, effectively equipping students with technology skills and problem solving skills through the use of resources based in technology. Teachers could use this opportunity to encourage students to look for resources on the internet that could function as tools to help them complete tasks, whether it be a youtube instructional video or an online bibliography template. By incorporating technology into the process of teaching reading teachers are able to teach the literacy of the internet as well as reading. Reading may become more relevant to adolescents when they see it as a huge part of their personal lives (the internet).

 

The source also suggests using techonology to increase engagement and interest in reading. This seems important to consider with teaching reading as reading has become something that exists beyond print, and is moving to exist more and more in digital spaces, spaces in which adolescents are active participants. I think teachers should ask students what technology they like and what technology they don't like and use that information to their advantage when teaching reading, as it helps them understand students likes and dislikes as well as providing an idea of the types of texts they are a part of. With this information a teacher can pick and choose certain modes of technology to include in the classroom in a more effective way. 


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Andres Londoño's curator insight, May 5, 2016 8:51 AM
Technology and language learning go hand by hand. Technology can support learners in a number of ways. Using and teaching students how to use them means that electronic references such as dictionaries, thesauruses and encyclopedias results in definitions, translations and explanations only being click away. Professors and students around the world use these tools every day in order to make the learning and teaching development more swiftly and faster. There more equipped the classroom is with advanced technology and the more knowledge the teacher has over them, the higher the chances they have to achieve their linguistic goal. Identifying the most appropriate dictionary and online tool to use is also an important aspect in this process. Lastly, purchasing language learning books online is becoming increasingly popular amongst students and encouraging learners to purchase them will benefit both teachers and pupils.
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REL_2009067.pdf

This article talks about five states attempt at improving adolescent literacy, collecting data on initiatives including community support and more funding to address the needs of students in the adolescent years - specifically focusing on their struggles with reading comprehension.

 

Again, this article echoes much of the sentiment of other articles on the subject of promoting literacy, in that it cannot be an individual effort by teachers. The issue of literacy must be addressed at a larger level, whether it be departmental, school-wide, district-wide, or as this article suggests, state-wide. Without support, these goals (literacy for all students) are more difficult to achieve. However, if an entire group is on board with promoting literacy skills, students will likely have a greater chance of becoming literate because their experiences in the classroom would all value developing literacy as a part of the curriculum. This would be seen in the variety and quality of texts the students work with as well as the teaching practices to promote their comprehension of texts.

 

These statewide efforts also took shape in the form of literacy in professional development for all educators. It seems important to provide these resources for teachers in order to create the community of fostering a strong literacy culture that is so essential for students' success. While all schools may not have the funds for professional development, a similar effect could be created through school-wide initiatives to provide support for literacy instruction. Support for literacy instruction can begin with text selection and extend to explicit teaching strategies. While it's true that state-funding for professional development and literacy coaches would likely greatly benefit schools, it is not always realistic, and change can occur simply by making literacy a school-wide priority. 

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greene.pdf

This article, while somewhat dated, discusses the challenges of "working backwards" with adolescents who do not have sufficient literacy skills to participate in the curriculum of their classroom. The author breaks down exactly why reading is difficult for them, describing their experience through a technical perspective, addressing decoding, context knowledge, and vocabulary issues. He has built a curriculum as a response to the struggles faced by educators without appropriate skills or strategies to promote literacy in older students.

 

His curriculum is built on testing students early on through spelling to determine their reading level and then consequently placing them in levels or stages of literacy development. This seems smart in promoting literacy because it allows the teacher to group students into fairly basic levels and create a learning goal for each of these groups within the curriculum. This curriculum then allows students still to work with literature, but in a way that is more accesible and simultaneously builds their literacy skills. Teachers can then select texts by group level appropriate to that respective group level, creating distinct literacy pathways for students based on their current ability, rather than a prescribed level correlated to their grade level or age, differentiating based on literacy skills while still adressing the same (or similar) content as the rest of the class.

 

This article is valuable in considering the challenges of working with older students strugglings with literacy because it takes the approach not of "working backwards" but working with the students' struggles in building curriculum, responding to the student needs rather than the prescriptive requirements of a district or state. Individualizing curriculum based on student needs is something applicable across all subjects of education. It also reminds educators that the purpose is not necessarily to reach a pre-determined goal, but to improve upon students' starting point, and work with the tools that they have, instead of forcing them to work at a pace or level that is unrealistic.

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