literacy instruction for adolescents
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This article was downloaded by: [University of California, San Diego]On: 08 October 2014, At: 00:27Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK
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Literacy instruction for adolescentsKay Fuller aa School of Education , University of Birmingham , Birmingham,UKPublished online: 31 Aug 2011.
To cite this article: Kay Fuller (2011) Literacy instruction for adolescents, Educational Review,63:3, 382-384, DOI: 10.1080/00131911.2011.596014
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2011.596014
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Siegler and Lin, in their chapter entitled Self-Explanations Promote ChildrensLearning, provide one of the strongest examples in the recent literature of thedevelopment of a new and powerful methodological approach. The microgeneticapproach, involving the close observation of children repeatedly undertaking thesame task over a short period of time, has provided extremely valuable insights intothe processes whereby learners develop new strategies. A finding of clear educa-tional significance, for example, is that asking children to explain their own and, inparticular, their teachers reasoning, in relation to tasks, has a significant impact ontheir understanding.
Finally, as an example of a chapter reviewing a particularly key study, I mustmention the chapter by Ornstein, Grammer and Coffman concerned with what theyterm teachers Mnemonic Style. Echoing other research on the impact of childparent dialogue which involves mentalising words and reference to mental pro-cesses on childrens developing metacognitive abilities, Ornstein and colleaguesstudy of Year 1 teachers has shown that similar effects are at work in the educa-tional arena, and that the effect is still significant three years later when the childrenare in Year 4.
All in all, this book is a very fitting tribute to a remarkable man andresearcher, Michael Pressley, and one of which I would imagine he would be veryproud. The potential of work in this area to improve the quality of educationexperienced by our children is amply demonstrated and I would warmly recom-mend this book to anyone who is or would wish to be part of this most worth-while enterprise.
David WhitebreadFaculty of Education, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
email@example.com 2011, David Whitebread
Literacy instruction for adolescents, edited by Karen D. Wood and William E.Blanton, New York, The Guilford Press, 2009, 526 pp., 25.95 (paperback), ISBN978-1-60623-118-0
Introducing an edited collection of essays, Literacy instruction for adolescents,Blanton and Wood highlight the importance of high levels of literacy in economicand health terms. They acknowledge multiple literacies and caution against anunquestioning adoption of reading programmes in attempts to improve the literacyof adolescents, or what they call commercial literacy. Contextualising a need to pro-mote literacy teaching in American schools, disturbing (2) test results are cited asindicators of a need for improvement. Unfortunately the editors fail to problematisemethods of testing or to critique a high stakes testing culture that has impactedon classroom learning in both the United States and England. Issues around socialjustice and teachers gradual acquisition of the courage to reject rubrics (412) intheir resistance against the current test frenzy (395) do, however, feature in indi-vidual chapters.
Whilst adolescents are represented as a homogeneous group in the introduction,Bean and Harper (43) are troubled by notions of adolescents and their literacies
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fixed by age or grade-level. They encourage teachers to consider gender, race,ethnicity and social class. Socio-cultural diversity is also explored by authors advo-cating the celebration of home languages in chapters 19 and 20, and the stark dif-ferences in teaching experienced by college-bound and non-college-bound students(406).
Divided into two parts, Part I Literacy and the adolescent learner focuses onthe needs of learners as boys (chapter 9), girls (chapter 10), youth (chapter 11) andlearners with English as an Additional Language (chapter 7). The various needs ofindividuals are considered in chapters highlighting the need for self-efficacy in thelearning process (chapter 3), parental involvement (chapter 5), literacy coaching(chapter 6) and differentiation (chapter 8). The context of content area learning orliteracy learning across the curriculum is considered in chapter 4. Part II Teachingthe adolescent learner: research-based instructional practices offers strategiesaround specific aspects of reading (chapters 1418), writing (chapter 20) and speak-ing and listening (chapter 19). An argument for assessment as formative rather thansummative is made (chapter 13) and a case for using grouping strategies as opposedto whole class in chapter 21.
The need to incorporate children and young peoples out of school literacypractices into classroom learning, to value their wide ranging literacy experiencesas readers of multi-modal texts is emphasised in several chapters. Of particular noteis the consideration of a generation of young people dubbed The Millennials(47). I question any claim that digital media literacy might universalise adoles-cents as the amazing native users of technology (48). There remain childrenand young people without access to new technologies making the negotiation ofmedia literacies an issue of equal opportunities. The need to support adolescentsonline literacy development is identified in chapter 22. Further consideration ofyoung peoples interactions with various Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook,YouTube and Flickr, alongside ideas for their use in the classroom, is given inchapter 23.
For me, in an extremely useful chapter that reiterates the purpose of research todisprove and to probe rather than to find a final, once-and-for-all answer to aresearch question (235), the author takes us back to the philosophical questionsabout teaching practice that need to be asked in a critical appraisal of any systemthat makes claims about improving classroom practice such as Who says a practiceis best? What is the philosophical orientation of the author? (241) and practicalconsiderations such as Do the students in the study resemble the students I teach?(241). Thus critical thinking is fostered and the reflective processes wherein profes-sionals link knowledge to practice are nurtured. It is this chapter that provides atouchstone for reading the remaining chapters.
In the main, this book contains useful reminders of what many teachers ofEnglish might instinctively know. For me chapter 8 reiterated much that was famil-iar on differentiation and disappointingly referred to research as thin (161), or inits adolescence, if not its infancy (148). The term differentiation might not havebeen used but there is clearly a wealth of research into processes such as scaffold-ing.
The literacy teaching and learning approaches offered throughout this book aresupported by research-based evidence be it in the form of well-referenced (thoughnot always including international research) reviews of the literature or empiricalresearch in which the voices of real children and young people learning in real
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classrooms with real teachers are heard. For many practitioners and teachereducators there might also be some new research-based evidence for changingtheir current practice in the endeavour to improve the literacy competence of thenext generation. There is certainly much to recommend this book for subject orcontent-are