Sunday, November 20, 2005

Adolescent Literacy

Kylene Beers

Kylene Beers was a very entertain and candid in her presentation. She asked us to think of something we are REALLY bad at, then imagine doing that for 8 hours a day. This is what many students experience most of their educational careers. If there is something we don't do well, we stop doing it. Often, the students' litany of excuses come from not having the necessary skills to do the work, not because they are lazy. Struggling students know they are struggling, they know they are different and isolated.

There were so many strategies and ideas Kylene gave. Here are some links to peruse:

All America Reads: About Kylene Beers and Reading Strategies
Heinemann Books: Author Profile
When Kids Can't Read What Teachers Can Do - book review

Linda Rief

When I was a first-year teacher, I taught in a very traditional school and had a very traditional mentor teacher. I was frustrated by the restrictive environment my students were in. I read Nancy Atwell’s seminal book, In the Middle, but was overwhelmed with her perfection and organization. I knew I couldn’t tackle that. Luckily I picked up Seeking Diversity and saw a clear vision of what I could do. With tears of gratitude and awe, I wrote Linda a letter expressing my great hopes and dreams. Within a month, she wrote in return a warm, supportive and encouraging letter; she even sent a CD and program of a musical her students had written. This was the mentor teacher that I wanted. I have read and reread that letter numerous times over the last 10 years, gaining hope and vision each time. At NCTE 2005, I finally was able to meet the woman that has truly inspired my teaching. Her presentation was awesome and she is as gracious in person and she was in text.

There are numerous resources from her, each one as good as the last:
Heinemann Books: Author Profile
Write in the Middle from Annenberg
In Conversation with Linda Rief

I would strong suggest a thorough reading of all her books. Her ideas and lessons are clear, to the point and easy to adapt to your situation.

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