Fostering Comprehension in English Classes: Beyond the Basics

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This valuable, research-based guide gives middle and secondary English teachers the tools they need to improve the comprehension skills of all their students. Core chapters explain specific practices for fostering learning from texts; leading students to a thorough, lasting understanding of subject matter; nurturing meaningful responses to literature; explicitly teaching comprehension strategies; and engaging students in higher-order thinking. An additional chapter highlights vocabulary instruction. Throughout, attention is given to building comprehension skills in a diverse range of students, from high achievers to struggling readers and English language learners. A wealth of hands-on materials are featured, including lesson plans, scaffolded reading experiences, and a richly detailed example of a teaching unit that shows how all facets of comprehension instruction can be brought together in the classroom.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Meredith Kiger
A focus on adolescent literacy is the hottest topic in literacy education. Anyone who works with adolescents on reading and writing realizes that literacy requirements are expanding at this age while the pool of students is becoming more diversified in their literacy experiences. While this focus has been realized for some time, proficiency at this level has remained stagnant over the last 10 years. The authors of this book, one in the "Beyond the Basics" series, believe that until a school wide effort to improve adolescent literacy develops, it will be up to individual teachers to lead "all of your students" to achieve a high level of literacy. The book focuses on comprehension and is divided into five facets: fostering learning from tests, teaching for understanding, nurturing response to literature, teaching comprehension strategies and promoting higher-order thinking. Following a brief overview of cognitive (learning) theories, the authors embrace an approach that includes social-constructivist and reader response theories. In other words, the learner is very much a part of how and what is learned. The remainder of the book provides instruction on achieving the five facets of comprehension, mentioned earlier. For many teachers, it is a new way of approaching literacy, so a group setting that encourages discussion along with this text would be preferred. Reviewer: Meredith Kiger, Ph.D.
From the Publisher
"Philippot and Graves provide a conceptually sophisticated treatment of comprehension development in secondary English classrooms. The book's discussion is comprehensive and unique. Critically, it not only shows how teachers can foster understanding of specific texts; it also shows how to help students develop comprehension processes that will transfer across texts and time."—Kathleen Clark, PhD, Department of Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, Marquette University
"Going beyond the buzzwords, this compelling book provides practical and tested advice for creating a balanced, well-designed language arts classroom that will benefit students with varying levels of literacy. The strong emphasis on English language learners will help teachers ease these students into the larger culture of the classroom and the school as a whole. Each chapter is rooted in theory and research, but also offers detailed instructions that will be useful to both new and experienced teachers."—Ann Swanson, PhD, International Baccalaureate Program Coordinator and former English teacher, Minnetonka High School, Minnetonka, Minnesota
"Too many teachers feel unprepared to teach reading to older students, or have trouble choosing which literacy goals to pursue. By focusing on comprehension, this book suggests an integrated and manageable way of thinking about adolescent literacy. It will help teachers put their best instincts into practice, expand their instructional repertoires, and trigger their imagination for 'what's next.' I can hardly wait to share this book with our curriculum director!"—Martha Cosgrove, MA, English teacher, Edina High School, Edina, Minnesota

"As an educator of future middle and secondary English teachers, I have long sought a text to use in informing my students about both reader-response approaches and the teaching of comprehension skills. Most texts are heavily slanted toward one side or another, but this one meshes the two perspectives, truly representing the best of both worlds. Exactly the book I've been waiting for!"—Leslie S. Rush, PhD, Department of Secondary Education, University of Wyoming

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Raymond Philippot, PhD, is Department Chair and Professor of English at St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, Minnesota. Dr. Philippot’s research interests include whole-class discussions of literature, resources for struggling readers, and reading comprehension at the secondary level. Prior to joining the faculty at St. Cloud State University, he taught high school English in Kansas and Minnesota. He currently serves as the English Education Chair for the Minnesota Council of Teachers of English.

Michael F. Graves, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Literacy Education at the University of Minnesota and a member of the Reading Hall of Fame. His research, development, and writing focus on vocabulary learning and instruction and comprehension instruction. Dr. Graves has served as the Editor of the Journal of Reading Behavior and as the Associate Editor of Research in the Teaching of English. Widely published, he currently serves as a consultant on comprehension strategies, vocabulary instruction, and text difficulty.

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Table of Contents

1. Our Take on Adolescent Literacy

2. Fostering Learning from Text

3. Teaching for Understanding

4. Fostering Responses to Literature

5. Teaching Comprehension Strategies

6. Teaching Higher-Order Thinking Skills

7. Vocabulary Instruction in English Classes

8. Comprehension in Context

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