When Kids Can't Read What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12


For Kylene Beers, the question of what to do when kids can't read surfaced abruptly in 1979 when she began teaching. That year, she discovered that some of the students in her seventh-grade language arts classes could pronounce all the words, but couldn't make any sense of the text.
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Editorial Reviews

Kylene Beers, a teacher with over 20 years of experience in the classroom, is an expert in the field of struggling readers. This guide for teachers for grades 6-12 is an excellent resource in helping teachers identify problems and in offering practical solutions. The underlying premise of her work is her belief that "first, teachers want to help the struggling readers who sit in their classrooms; second, those students want to be helped; and third, the right instruction can make a difference." The book is organized in a highly effective manner. There are a few chapters devoted to analyzing the process of reading and understanding what independent readers do effortlessly and what dependent readers need to learn to do. Several chapters deal with comprehension strategies. Other chapters deal with vocabulary, word recognition, fluency, automaticity, spelling, and finding the right books to use. Therefore, teachers who are looking for ways to help a student with a specific problem are easily able to locate a relevant section of the text. In addition to a sizable list of references for further study, there are 14 appendices covering almost 70 pages that should prove helpful to many. Among these are a list of common roots, prefixes and suffixes, a list of phonics generalizations, and a list of common spelling rules. Beers insists that simply telling struggling readers, "Just do it," is not acceptable: "We must show students how to do it." This is not solely the responsibility of a reading specialist. Beers equips all middle and secondary level teachers with specific strategies that work, and following her own advice, shows them how to use these strategies. Many chapters include a section called"Step Inside a Classroom" in which she presents transcripts of classroom dialogue between a teacher and a student to illustrate a certain technique such as helping students make inferences. Another strategy Beers uses is a section of "Questions and Answers" in which she tries to anticipate questions that teachers may have and provide responses. Additionally, there are a number of charts, forms, and illustrations that facilitate the teaching of a particular reading skill. For example, the form, "Most Important Word," is shown filled in by a student in response to a poem. This form is found in a reproducible format in an appendix. This guide is certain to provide teachers with a number of new approaches to reach the struggling reader. It challenges teachers to take more responsibility for making dependent readers independent. KLIATT Codes: P—Recommended. 2003, Heinemann, 392p. illus. bibliog. index., Pucci
This newest book by the author of Into Focus: Understanding and Creating Middle School Readers (Christopher Gordon, 1998/VOYA December 1998) should be required reading for all current English teachers and those preparing for the profession. It is the culmination of Beers's twenty-three years in the classroom, about half of which have been spent working specifically with struggling readers. Most secondary English teachers do not plan to teach kids how to read; they expect to assign classic novels and discuss literature. Beers held this ideal as she began her first teaching assignment, but she was quickly disillusioned. Many of her students hated to read, and a large number of them could not read. Her inability that first year to help one particular student named George was the catalyst by which she became an advocate for struggling readers. Each of the fifteen chapters begins and ends with a note to George, which adds a poignant tone to the author's message. Beers provides teaching strategies and activities, along with the rationale behind them. While admitting that it takes time, practice, and dedication, she never asks teachers to do anything she has not already tested herself. Worth mentioning is Beers's underlying premise that all readers are struggling in some way. The key is to become an independent struggling reader, one who possesses the tools to meet the challenge of any type of text. Not only can struggling readers improve but good readers can as well. As this reviewer, also a high school English teacher of twenty-three years, discovered, Beers offers real answers rather than just educational theories. 2003, Heinemann, 368p,
— Kim Zach
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780325030258
  • Publisher: Heinemann
  • Publication date: 10/22/2002
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eTextbook
  • Pages: 400

Meet the Author

KYLENE BEERS , a former middle school teacher, assumes a new position as Senior Reading Advisor to Secondary Schools with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, Columbia University, effective summer 2007. She's the author of When Kids Can't Read/What Teachers Can Do (Heinemann, 2002) and is the co-editor with Robert Probst and Linda Rief of the forthcoming Adolescent Literacy: Turning Promise into Practice (Heinemann, spring 2007). A respected authority on struggling readers who works with elementary, middle school, and high school teachers across the nation, Kylene was recently elected Vice-President of the National Council of Teachers of English to assume the presidency in 2008.
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Table of Contents

A Defining Moment
Creating Independent Readers
Assessing Dependent Readers' Needs
Explicit Instruction in Comprehension
Helping Students Make Inferences
Frontloading Meaning: Pre-reading Activities
Constructing Meaning: During-Reading Activities
Extending Meaning: After-Reading Activities
Fluency and Automaticity
Word Recognition
Creating the Confidence to Respond
Finding the Right Book
A Final Letter to George
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