New Teacher Initiative Annotated Bibliography

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Summary: The National Writing Project’s New-Teacher Initiative supported local writing project sites in expanding their work with early career teachers, placing a particular emphasis on the teaching and learning of writing in high-needs schools. A useful resource for leaders of professional development experiences for early career teachers, this annotated bibliography is a partial listing of the readings that have been most significant in the work of the New-Teacher Initiative. They address four areas: 1) the teaching of writing, 2) understanding culture and its implications for teaching and learning, 3) strengthening inquiry as a mode of learning, and 4) rethinking professional development for new teachers through participation in a professional community.

A Cognitive Strategies Approach to Reading and Writing Instruction for English Language Learners in Secondary School

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Author: Carol Booth Olson and Robert Land

Summary: This article documents a longitudinal research study conducted by members of the UC Irvine Writing Project in partnership with a large, urban school district in which 93 percent of the students are English language learners. Over an eight-year period, 55 secondary teachers implemented a cognitive strategies approach to reading and writing instruction designed to make visible the thinking strategies that experienced readers and writers access in the process of constructing meaning. An important resource, this would be useful as a text for study in a professional development program or for individual teacher research. The project “was not just an abstract research study; it was a concrete attempt to level the playing field for specific EL students in a large urban school district through sustained, ongoing collaboration with a dedicated and committed group of teachers…” The consistency of positive outcomes on multiple measures strongly points to the efficacy of using this approach with EL students.

Content Area Literacy and Learning: Selected Sources for the 21st Century, An Annotated Bibliography

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Author: Judith Rodby

Summary: Those looking for materials related to content area and cross-disciplinary reading may find this annotated bibliography useful. It is organized around three general categories of research and practice: 1) generalized reading strategies; 2) adapting/applying generalized reading strategies to specific content areas (math, science, history); and 3) content area-specific approaches that focus on genres, discourses, and identities implicit in the ways of knowing in subject areas and disciplines.

Disciplinary Literacy and Reading Across the Content Areas

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Author: Art Peterson

Summary: A valuable resource for professional development planners and facilitators and content area classroom teachers, this article poses the questions: What does it mean to be a successful reader and writer in English class, in science, in history, in mathematics? With those in mind, Elizabeth Birr Moje argues that focusing on disciplinary literacy will help us understand the thinking and learning demands students face as they move through different content area classes that make up a typical high school day. Noting that since each discipline has its own literacy, the author argues for stripping away the one-size-fits-all literacy “strategies” and engaging students in the way historians and scientists and others actually read and write in their disciplines.

Multiple Texts: Multiple Opportunities for Teaching and Learning

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Author: Laura Robb

Summary: Offering a vivid glimpse into her middle school classroom, author Laura Robb illustrates how making available a range of texts at different reading levels and from a variety of perspectives on a subject promotes the engagement and success of all students in her heterogeneously grouped classroom. Noting that multiple texts help all students engage as active members of a literate community of readers, Robb also shares a list of sources for locating a range of nonfiction texts along with a variety of effective teaching strategies. Sharing both theory and practice, this article could be easily the basis for a single workshop session or a series of workshops demonstrating strategies for strengthening students’ content-area literacy skills.


Book Review: Teaching Reading in Middle School

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Author: Rosalyn Finlayson

Summary: This review of Laura Robb’s book, Teaching Reading in Middle School, is a useful resource for professional development program leaders and teachers looking for strategies to implement reading workshop in their classrooms to benefit students at all reading levels. Sharing the impetus for and insights drawn from her inquiry into reading in her middle school classroom, Robb has identified a framework that enables all students, including struggling readers, to realize that being a successful, strategic reader is within their reach.

What’s Next: Possibilities for Literacy and Content Area Learning (NWP Radio)

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Summary: This NWP Radio show captures the conversation among planners, presenters and participants in the 2010 National Reading Initiative Conference in New Orleans. The conference grew out of and captures the learning from a series of inquiries that several NWP sites engaged in to understand the work they were doing with professional development related to reading. Of particular interest to teacher leaders looking at the reading/writing connection and disciplinary literacy, the conference examined the intersections of threads of work related to adolescent literacy and content area learning by addressing the following questions:

  • What is a text and what should we know about reading and writing texts in different disciplines?
  • What does strong interdisciplinary work look like?
  • What is the role of inquiry in content area learning?
  • What is discipline-specific in reading and writing?
  • What role do digital literacies play in content area learning?
  • How can writing project sites and schools organize to work toward deeper understanding and new practices?


Boys’ Literacy Camp Sets a Standard

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Summary: When adolescent readers can read, but won’t read, how can teachers get them engaged? Teacher-consultants in Maine created a summer wilderness camp where students discovered they had to read in order to do things they wanted to do. For example, they had to read about canoe safety before piloting a canoe, or study how to edit a film digitally in the process of making one about their adventures. The goal was to make reading and writing real and necessary. This idea would be readily adaptable for summer youth programs.

Students as Writers and Composers: Workshopping in the Digital Age

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Author: Troy Hicks and Franki Sibberson

Summary: In this collaborative conversation between former middle school teacher and current National Writing Project site director Troy Hicks and third-grade teacher Franki Sibberson, they consider a range of teaching and learning practices that “guide students to consider themselves multimodal text-makers who combine words, images, sounds,and gestures” as they compose. In the process, they consider key issues related to writing and technology, including redefining “text” and assessing digital writing. A link to the audio of their conversation is included.