Middle School Readers: Helping Them Read Widely, Helping Them Read Well

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"When I finished Middle School Readers I wanted to reverse time and relive sixth grade as a student in Nancy Allison's class. Allison takes us into her own unique brand of reading workshop, providing the finest road map for teachers. Ultimately, what Allison communicates is that to help students read fiction and nonfiction, to refine their knowledge of genre structure and reading strategies, we must engage in conversations with students that lead them to independence."
-Laura Robb, Author of Teaching Middle School Writers

"Students need language arts classrooms where the shelves are filled with engaging fiction and nonfiction texts--and where their teacher's main responsibility is to support their growth as readers. They deserve to be respected and supported as they work their way through self-selected texts."
-Nancy Allison

Nancy Allison shows how to provide the choice adolescents crave with the guidance they need-and she does this all with instructional and organizational strategies that make this infinitely manageable. In describing how to teach middle school students to read widely and well, Nancy presents:
- the daily routines of an effective reading workshop with ideas for developing a robust classroom library
- tips for cultivating independent readers and matching students to just-right books
- her unique brand of deskside conferences with examples of how they can be used to differentiate instruction and motivate disengaged readers
- strategies for teaching comprehension in fiction and nonfiction texts
- techniques for assessing and evaluating independent readers.
Plus! A built-in study guide makes this an ideal book for professional book study.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325028149
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 9/2/2009
  • Pages: 192
  • Sales rank: 629,377
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Nancy Allison began her work with adolescents 25 years ago. For most of that time she has been in Title I schools in Houston where she has worked extensively with children of poverty, minority students, and English learners. As a literacy coach she has shared her success with other teachers in the Houston area for the past 16 years.
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Table of Contents

Foreword Laura Robb vi

Acknowledgments viii

1 The Teacher on the Sidelines of Independent Reading 1

A Call to Change 2

Parting Ways with the Whole-Class Novel 3

Choice: A Critical Factor in Engagement 5

Texts That Spur Growth 6

How Not to Squander Independent Reading Time 6

Handing Over Responsibility to Students 7

Dovetailing Independent Reading in the Balanced Literacy Classroom 8

The Difference a Change Can Make 11

Questions for Reflection 12

2 Planning for Engagement: Coloring and Contouring Students' Expectations 13

Students' Prior Experiences 14

Shaping Students' Concept of Reader 15

Do All Readers Lug Heavy Tote Bags? Modeling the Behavior of a Reader 15

Windows on Their World: Reading Autobiographies 17

Inviting Students into the Reader's World 20

Book Talks: Plot Teaser Moments That Motivate 20

Daily Exchanges: Sustaining Engagement, Confirming Membership 22

Engaging Students Through Small-Group Sharing 23

The Difference Engagement Can Make 25

Questions for Reflection 26

3 Clever Matchmaking Between Students and Books 27

Building a Robust Classroom Library 28

Making the Classroom Library Accessible 30

Planning for Student Choice 35

Creating Excitement About Fiction 36

Launch a Shopping Spree for a Perfect Match 38

Book Talking Nonfiction 42

Book Shopping Record Sheets: Early in the Year Assessment Tools 44

The Benefit of Time Well Spent 49

Making Good Choices in the Library 49

Teaching a Readers Expectations for Books 50

Easing the Hunt for Books 51

Questions for Reflection 55

4 Direct Instruction and Routines in the Independent Reading Classroom 57

Teaching Through Minilessotis58

Breaking Down a Complex Task: Three Types of Knowledge 58

Anchoring the Lesson in Common Texts 59

Using Anchor Charts to Hold Shared Thinking 60

Anchor Charts in Action: Lesson on Inferences 61

Reading Responses That Link Instruction and Practice 64

Teaching the Routine of Supported independent Reading Time 65

The Difference Seamless Instruction Can Make 67

Questions for Reflection 67

5 Teaching Through Deskside Conferences 69

Deskside Conferences as Vehicles for Teaching 70

The Purpose and Structure of a Conference 71

Preparing for the Conference 72

Initiating the Conference 73

Focusing the Conference 74

Checking for Understanding 76

Keeping a Record of Deskside Conferences 76

The Difference a Conference Can Make 80

Questions for Reflection 82

6 Capturing the Attention of Our Disengaged Readers 83

Dealing with "Boring" Texts: The Abandonment Conference 84

Understanding What Keeps Readers Reading 86

Dealing with Distractions 88

Assessing the Comprehension of Disengaged Students 93

Using Questions to Engage Readers 96

Questioning the Author's Intent 100

Questions as a Response to Engage Readers 101

A Conference Focused on Questioning 102

Questions for Reflection 106

7 Differentiating Instruction Through Deskside Conferences 107

Today's Reality 108

Differentiating Instruction for Independent Readers 109

Delayed Readers 110

On-Level Readers 115

Gifted Readers 119

The Rewards of Supporting Independent Readers 121

Questions for Reflection 123

8 Teaching Comprehension in Fiction Texts 124

Redirecting Growing Readers 125

Story Structure: The Basis of Questions About Fiction 127

Detecting Point of View 137

Supporting Readers of Fiction 141

Questions for Reflection 142

9 Teaching Comprehension in Nonfiction Texts 143

Bridging to Informational Texts 144

Understanding the Purpose of Nonfiction Texts 145

The Power of Pictures 146

Reading Informational Texts 147

Nonfiction Conferences 148

The True Meaning of K-W-L 149

Expecting New Learning 151

Deepening Knowledge: The Basis of Questions About Nonfiction 152

Broadening the Vision of Reading 153

Questions for Reflection 153

10 Assessing Independent Readers 154

Reading Response 155

Assessing Reading Responses 158

Reading Log 161

Assessing Reading Logs 163

Final Thoughts: The Power of Change 164

Study Guide 165

References 177

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