All About Adolescent Literacy

All about adolescent literacy. Resources for parents and educators of kids in grades 4-12.
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Hot Topics in Adolescent Literacy


Writing is an often overlooked component of literacy, but the ability to write clearly and communicate effectively is critical to students' classroom and workplace success. Thoughtful writing assignments can provide a means to enhance students' vocabulary, comprehension, and spelling skills.


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Extended Writing-to-Learn Strategies

Writing enables students to process, organize, formulate, and extend their thinking about what they have been learning. In addition, teachers can also assign writing to help students evaluate what they know and understand about a topic. These writing-to-learn strategies help foster students' abilities to make predictions, build connections, raise questions, discover new ideas, and promote higher-level thinking.

Analytical Writing in the Content Areas

Because writing is thinking, the organization of students' writing reflects both the structure of their thinking and the depth of their understanding. Students should be writing in all their classes, explaining what they know and how they know it. Thus, it's essential for content-area teachers to give students meaningful analytical writing assignments. Read An Introduction to Analytical Text Structures for more information and graphic organizers to help with writing instruction.

An Introduction to Analytical Text Structures

Many students are used to writing narratives — stories, description, even poetry, but have little experience with analytical writing. This article is an introduction to six analytical text structures, useful across content areas. See also Analytical Writing in the Content Areas.

Speech Recognition for Learning

Speech recognition, also referred to as speech-to-text or voice recognition, is technology that recognizes speech, allowing voice to serve as the "main interface between the human and the computer." This Info Brief discusses how current speech recognition technology facilitates student learning, as well as how the technology can develop to advance learning in the future.

Giving Feedback on Student Writing

Learn how to conduct effective peer and teacher writing conferences to improve student writing.

Teach the Elements of Writing

It's a misconception that writing teachers simply tell students to write and wait to see what happens. Teachers should provide instruction in and exposure to various elements of writing to help students understand what good writing is.

Help Students Generate Ideas Through Prewriting

Learn how to model a range of prewriting techniques and introduce several mnemonics to help students organize their writing.

Writing Disabilities: An Overview

Learn from an expert why some kids with learning disabilities struggle with writing and how some instructional approaches can help.

Assistive Technology Tools: Writing

Learn about assistive technology tools — from abbreviation expanders to word-recognition software programs — that address your child's specific writing difficulties.

Cell Phone Novels: 140 Characters at a Time

Cell phone novels are short stories designed to be read on cellular telephones. This article examines the Japanese trend and its potential in America.

Key Literacy Component: Writing

Students who don’t write well aren’t able to learn and communicate effectively. This article explains what good writing skills are and how to help struggling young writers gain those skills through proper instruction.

A Student's Perspective on Writing

Eli tells us what it is like to have dysgraphia. Regina Richards, a well-known expert on dysgraphia (and Eli's mom), explains how to help children who struggle with the challenges Eli describes. Practical techniques discussed include POWER (Prepare, Organize, Write, Edit, Revise).

Teaching Writing to Diverse Student Populations

Writing is a complex operation requiring knowledge of text structure, syntax, vocabulary, and topic, and sensitivity to audience needs; so it is not surprising that many teens find writing challenging. This article identifies the qualities of strong writing instruction, and offers advice to teachers for incorporating writing instruction into their practice, using tools like notebooks and journals, and sharing strategies that reinforce the importance of pre-writing and revision.

Making Writing Instruction a Priority in America's Middle and High Schools

Sometimes writing is seen as the flip side of reading, and it is assumed that students who are proficient readers will naturally be proficient writers. While reading and writing are complementary skills, students do not become skilled writers without explicit instruction. This policy brief from the Alliance for Excellent Education examines how writing can be taught in secondary schools and how policy can encourage more teachers to undertake writing instruction.

A summary of "Writing Next"

What does research tell us about effective teaching techniques to help adolescents develop their writing skills? This article summarizes Writing Next, a 2007 study of adolescent writing instruction.

Academic Language: Everyone's "Second" Language

Being able to speak English fluently does not guarantee that a student will be able to use language effectively in academic settings. Fluency must be combined with higher order thinking skills to create an "academic language," which allows students to effectively present their ideas in a way that others will take seriously. The author, an ELL teacher, describes her use of "protocols" (a cheat sheet of sentence starters) to build students' cognitive academic language proficiency.

Using Assistive Technology to Support Writing

Technology—and especially the subset of technology tools known as assistive technology—can be an effective element of the writing curriculum for students with disabilities. Assistive technology (AT) can be defined as a technology that allows someone to accomplish a critical educational or life task. Since writing is so integral to school success, AT is often indicated to assist students with disabilities. In this article, CITEd looks at how technology can support students' writing.

Guidelines for Teaching Middle and High School Students to Read and Write Well: Six Features of Effective Instruction

Building on their research in secondary classrooms, the Center on English Learning and Achievement has developed guidelines that describe six essential features of effective literacy instruction and how teachers can implement them.

Understanding Why Students Avoid Writing

If parents and teachers understand why some students hate writing , they can targeted solution to address students' reluctance. Learn some reasons students avoid writing, and how increasing the automaticity of writing skills and underscoring an appreciation for the purpose of writing can help.

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