The headlines on U.S. students’ performance in reading and writing over the past year have been markedly grim. Reading scores on the National Assessment for Educational Progress were largely flat, with only about a third of students reaching proficiency. On the SAT, meanwhile, average scores continued a pattern of decline. The SAT reading mark was reportedly the lowest on record.
Inevitably, those results prompted much theorizing about the reasons behind students’ struggles in literacy. But less attention has been given to instructional efforts that, against difficult odds, are showing signs of success in bringing reading and writing to life for today’s students. This issue of the Teacher PD Sourcebook aims to highlight several such initiatives—some taking place grassroots-style in individual classrooms, some that are part of innovative larger programs.
In our From the Field section, we featureby two urban educators who, faced with challenging circumstances, developed notably outside-the-box practices to engage their students in language arts work.
Our Features section kicks off with a look at the Story Pirates, a little-known performing-arts group whose model offers ideas on inspiring children’s literary creativity. We then move to the nitty-gritty of effective classroom reading instruction. In an exclusive Q&A, Gail Boushey and Joan Moser—authors of The Café Book—discuss their influential methodology for honing students’ reading abilities. Our Practice Briefing article, meanwhile, profiles the Literacy Collaborative, an intensive coaching-based instructional framework that has built a strong track record among both teachers and researchers.
Finally, we have a report on a digital-texts project that is making books more accessible to students with disabilities, and we review teacher Kelly Gallagher’s new book on rescuing writing instruction.
We hope you find teaching ideas you can build on and that take you and your students beyond the grim headlines.
A version of this article appeared in the March 01, 2012 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook