For decades now, researchers have known that many children succeed in reading over the first few years of school only to experience a “4th grade slump,” setting them on course for years of academic frustration. In grades K-3, when teachers emphasize phonics and the reading of storybooks and other simple texts, most children make progress.
But when teachers start giving them longer, more academic reading assignments — that is, when the emphasis shifts from “learning to read” to “reading to learn” — many students lose steam.
Even if they’ve mastered the basics in the first few years of school, students still need to be taught how to make sense of the varied and increasingly difficult materials they encounter in the science, history, math, English, and other subject area classes that comprise the middle and high school curriculum.
Students need to learn how to write clear, compelling texts of their own. And they need to learn how to communicate effectively for many different audiences, both in and outside of school, using all sorts of tools, from pen and paper to the spoken word to the latest electronic media.
In short, literacy instruction remains every bit as important in middle school and high school as it is in grades K-3.
What’s being done to improve the teaching of reading and writing in the nation’s secondary schools? And what can you do to teach reading and writing more effectively in your classroom?
AdLit 101 is designed to help you get up to speed on recent research and policy developments, to give you some practical advice on teaching reading and writing, and to point you toward a wide range of additional resources.