The Missouri Reader Vol. 42, Issue 1 - Page 31


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In my perspective, multicultural education should not focus only on minorities. All students are equally important, although different ...

adolescents as they enter a global society in which information and literacy will bombard their lives. Biancarosa and Snow (2004), in Reading Next, propose fifteen elements of effective adolescent literacy programs. These recommendations are aimed at improving the achievement of middle grade and high school students. These principles include explicit comprehension instruction with essential elements of comprehension. These elements of comprehension include summarizing, monitoring, self-questioning, and evaluating (Harvey & Goudvis, 2017). Other principles include effective instruction embedded in content area subjects; text-based collaborative learning where students interact with one another around a variety of texts; and the use of diverse texts at a variety of difficulty levels

and on a variety of topics (Biancarosa & Snow, 2004). Additional elements of effective adolescent literacy programs, according to Reading Next, include intensive student writing, ongoing formative assessment of students, continuous professional development for teachers, and extended time for literacy which takes place as part of language arts instruction as well as in the content areas. In another position paper, The Commission on Adolescent Literacy of the International Literacy Association (2012) supports many of the same principles for fostering adolescents’ literacy growth. Among these principles is the idea that middle grade students deserve access to a wide variety of reading material that they can read and that they want to read. The commission further endorses the importance of time spent reading and its positive correlation to reading success and improved reading attitudes of middle grade children. Well-developed comprehension and study strategies are also essential for adolescents (ILA, 2012; Vacca,Vacca & Mraz, 2014). These include self-questioning, synthesizing, recognizing organizational patterns of text, understanding key ideas and vocabulary, and evaluating authors’ ideas (ILA, 2012; National Council of Teachers of English, 2006).

Additional principles include adolescents’ rights to expert instruction where explicit instruction in reading comprehension and study strategies across the curriculum are modeled and provided (ILA, 2012; Gunning, 2006; National Council of Teachers of English, 2006). Finally, adolescents should be administered reading assessments that demonstrate their strengths as well as show their area of need. This careful assessment will help teachers deliver the best possible instruction (McCormick & Zutell, 2015; ILA, 2012; National Council of Teachers of English, 2006).

Considerations for School Administrators and Elementary Educators

According to Gunning (2006), highly effective schools adopt a children-first philosophy. Administrators of these schools foster a sense of common purpose and teachers are a vital part of the planning and implementation of the school’s literacy program. Districts that mandate the amount of time allotted to instructional time for literacy should revisit those mandates to ensure that independent reading occurs at school, whether within or in addition to the literacy block. Policies for expectations for at home independent reading should also be strongly considered. Continuous professional development needs to become a part of any school’s culture in order for teachers to become experts at their craft. When the level of professional expertise improves among educators, then these educators will maximize their use of time as they deliver the best possible instruction in the area of literacy across all the grades. School administrators need to create a culture among their faculty which promotes and acknowledges professional development. Informal teacher leaders, such as Ryan, who have experience with maximizing effective teaching and learning throughout the literacy block, can be critical mentors to their peers in the upper elementary grades. Both informal discussions and scheduled team meetings can aid teachers in instructional decision-making and ultimately benefit the children in their classrooms. Districts fortunate enough to have reading professionals such as literacy coaches and reading specialists can utilize their expertise, too, in promoting efficient and seamless use of time throughout a designated literacy block.

In addition to studying how time is spent and prioritized, professional development must help teachers to understand standards and develop the capacity to meet standards in an equitable manner. Teachers are better equipped to be accountable for testing outcomes when they are knowledgeable of the basis on which the students are evaluated.