As the reading profession faces the challenge of high-stakes testing and standards-based curricula, it is essential that administrators, teachers, and teacher educators who plan and implement reading programs in urban settings have a professional development resource that speaks directly to urban education and diversity. This collection is that resource, showing what worksor what has the promise of workingin urban settings.
This collection of research-based articles is framed around the International Reading Association position statement Making a Difference Means Making It Different: Honoring Children's Rights to Excellent Reading Instruction, which presents 10 "literacy rights" of every child, outlining what children need to become competent readers and writers. The volume includes two or three amides pertaining to each of the 10 rights, an annotated bibliography of related IRA books and amides published since 1990, and a list of websites that provide additional information about promising practices in urban reading instruction.
Promising Practices for Urban Reading Instruction is an important step in identifying promising practices for making children's literacy rights a reality and provides direction about the next steps for educators involved in urban reading instruction.
About the Author
Pamela A. Mason is Elementary Principal at Tucker School, Milton Public Schools, Milton, Massachusetts, USA.
Jeanne Shay Schumm is Professor and Chair in the Department of Teaching and Learning at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida, USA.
Table of Contents
I. CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO APPROPRIATE EARLY READING INSTRUCTION BASED ON THEIR INDIVIDUAL NEEDS.
1. Good Reading Instruction is More Important Than Who Provides the Instruction or Where it Takes Place.
2. Talking the Walk: Children Reading Urban Environmental Print.
3. Early Literacy for Inner-City Children: The Effects of Reading and Writing Interventions in English and Spanish During the Preschool years.
II. CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO READING INSTRUCTION THAT BUILDS BOTH THE SKILL AND THE DESIRE TO READ INCREASINGLY COMPLEX MATERIALS.
4. A Comparison of Inner-City Children’s Interpretations of Reading and Writing Instruction in the Early Grades in Skills-Based and Whole Language Classrooms.
5. Breaking Down Barriers That Disenfranchise African-American Adolescent Readers in Low-Level Tracks.
III. CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO WELL-PREPARED TEACHERS WHO KEEP THEIRSKILLS UP TO DATE THROUGH EFFECTIVE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT.
6. Cultural Attitudes Toward Reading: Implications for Teachers of ESL/Bilingual Readers.
7. Know Thyself and Understand Others.
IV. CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO ACCESS A WIDE VARIETY OF BOOKS AND OTHER READING MATERIAL IN CLASSROOM, SCHOOL, AND COMMUNITY LIBRARIES.
8. 3.6 Minutes Per Day: The Scarcity of Informational Texts in First Grade.
9. African-American Children’s Literature That Helps Students Find Themselves: Selection Guidelines for Grades K-3.
V. CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO READING ASSESSMENT THAT IDENTIFIES THEIR STRENGTHS AS WELL AS THEIR NEEDS AND INVOLVES THEM IN MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT THEIR OWN LEARNING.
10. The Evils of the Use of IQ Tests to Define Learning Disabilities in First and Second-Language Learners.
11. Three Paradigms of Assessment: Measurement, Procedure, and Inquiry.
VI. CHILDREN WHO ARE STRUGGLING WITH READING HAVE A RIGHT TO RECEIVE INTENSIVE INSTRUCTION FROM PROFESSIONALS SPECIFICALLY PREPARED TO TEACH READING.
12. The Role of the Reading Specialist: A Review of Research.
13. Finding the Keys to Educational Progress in Urban Youth: Three Case Studies.
VII. CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO READING INSTRUCTION THAT INVOLVES PARENTS AND COMMUNITIES IN THEIR ACADEMIC LIVES.
14. Making Kids Winners: New Perspectives About Literacy From Urban Elementary School Principals.
15. Stopping the Silence: Hearing Parents’ Voices in an Urban First-Grade Family Literacy Program.
VIII. CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO READING INSTRUCTION THAT MAKES MEANINGFUL USE OF THEIR FIRST LANGUAGE SKILLS.
16. Reading as Situated Language: A Sociocognitive Perspective.
17. Voices of the Teenage Diasporas.
18. Positioning in a Middle School Culture: Gender, Race, Social Class, and Power.
IX. CHILDREN HAVE THE RIGHT TO EQUAL ACCESS TO THE TECHNOLOGY USED FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF READING INSTRUCTION.
19. The Effects of Concurrent Classroom and Home Instructional Video-Game Use on Student Achievement: A Preliminary Study.
20. Internet Workshop: Making Time for Literacy.
21. The Miss Rumphius Effect: Envisionments for Literacy and Learning That Transform the Internet.
X. CHILDREN HAVE A RIGHT TO CLASSROOMS THAT OPTIMIZE LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES.
22. “If You Can Pass Momma’s Tests, Then She Knows You’re Getting Your Education”: A Case Study of Support for Literacy Learning Within an African-American Family.
23. Family and Community Involvement: The Bedrock of Reading Success.
24. Reaching Out to a Diversity of Learners: Innovative Educators Need Substantial Support.
Appendix A: The International Reading Association’s Commitment to Urban Education.
Appendix B: Annotated Bibliography of IRA Resources Related to Urban Literacy.
Appendix C: Selected Urban Education Websites.
Tuesday nights seem somewhat empty now. For months, members of the International Reading Association (IRA) Urban Diversity Initiatives Commission held weekly conference calls to discuss our commission "charges," one of which was to recommend and/or create professional development resources to impact urban education and diversity. To respond to this charge, the commission decided to develop a book. Like most IRA commissions and committees, our work is accomplished with the efforts of volunteer IRA members representing different backgrounds and experiences working long distance with short timelines. What united our commission was a common desire to develop a resource that would "feed the hunger" of administrators, teachers, and teacher educators working in urban settings. Administrators and teachers who plan and implement reading programs in urban settings are hungry to know what worksor at least what has promise for working. Teacher educators who plan and implement professional development in reading share this hunger. Promising Practices for Urban Reading Instruction represents the Urban Diversity Initiatives Commission's first step in meeting this hungeran appetizer if you will.
The importance of the work of the Urban Diversity Initiatives Commission is particularly acute as the reading profession faces the challenge of high-stakes testing and standards-based curricula. As Darling-Hammond and Falk (1997) put it,
Depending on how standards are shaped and used, either they could support more ambitious teaching and greater levels of success for all students or they could serve to create higher rates of failure for those who arealready least well served by the education system. (p. 191)
As we pondered our charges and the challenges that face our profession, the commission's weekly conversations led to four major decisions that shaped the design of this volume. The first decision was to take a look at where the International Reading Association is as a professional organization. Nearly two thirds of all children in the United States live in urban settings. Many of these children live in poverty and face the challenge of learning to read in cultural and linguistic environments that are unfamiliar. What has the Association done to meet this need? In recent years, the Association has published increasing numbers of articles related to urban education and cultural and linguistic diversity. We decided that as a starting point our publication would draw primarily from IRA peer-reviewed publications and would provide the reader with a collection of articles that represent promising practices. We also decided to include an annotated bibliography with a larger range of IRA books and articles related to urban issues (see Appendix B).
Now to the second decision: how best to identify and organize potential articles. We decided that the framework for the volume would be the IRA position statement Making a Difference Means Making It Different. Honoring Children's Rights to Excellent Reading Instruction. In this publication, the Association declares that it is time to build reading programs on a set of comprehensive principles that honor children's rights to excellent reading instruction and identifies 10 specific principles that are the right of every child.
How to make those rights a reality for children who attend overcrowded urban schools, for children who do not have access to technology, for children of poverty with limited family resources, and for children of cultural and linguistic backgrounds that are different from the mainstream are the challenges for educating students in the new millennium. The United States, its educational system, and its professional organizations have a moral obligation to make those rights a reality for all children in this country and beyond. We decided to make this volume a first step in identifying promising practices for making the 10 literacy rights a reality.
Our third decision was related to the intended audience. After some debate, we decided to make this publication broad based and, like Making a Difference Means Making It Different, make it accessible to the profession as a whole including teachers, administrators, and teacher educators. The intent is to "cover the waterfront" and report promising practices across grade levels. We view Promising Practices for Urban Reading Instruction as a gateway piece that will pave the way for subsequent publications related to policy and practice and perhaps to more in-depth publications specific to the elementary and secondary level.
Our fourth decision was to have the publication provide some direction about where we as a field need to go. To accomplish this we decided that each right would be prefaced with a "bridge statement" written by an educator with expertise in the topic addressed in that right and in the supporting articles. Each bridge piece provides an overview of the articles and of the issues related to the right, and addresses the need for future research and development in that area.
This collection includes two or three articles for each of the 10 reading rights. A list of the rights with an overview of each bridge piece follows:
- Children have a right to appropriate early reading instruction based on their individual needs. Dolores B. Malcolm reviews articles profiling three programs focused on early reading instruction: a pull-out program for first graders, a literacy walk initiative to develop awareness of community environmental print, and a family book-loan project. She provides provocative questions about how these programs might be replicated in other settings.
- Children have a right to reading instruction that builds both the skill and the desire to read increasingly complex materials. Patricia Ruggiano Schmidt melds her review of two articles with historical roots in the field of reading and her own experience in urban schools to highlight the promise of balanced literacy instruction for diverse learners.
- Children have a right to well-prepared teachers who keep their skills up to date through effective professional development. William T. Hammond's piece focuses on the importance of teaching reading that is respectful of multiple cultures, and it offers some practical suggestions for preservice and inservice professional development in accomplishing this goal.
- Children have a right to access a wide variety of books and other reading material in classroom, school, and community libraries. Barbara J. Diamond's contribution points out the continued paucity of culturally relevant literature for urban students and provides specific suggestions for professional development of teachers to resolve this dilemma.
- Children have a right to reading assessment that identifies their strengths as well as their needs and involves them in making decisions about their own learning. Janette K. Klingner's review of three articles pertaining to the volatile issue of high-stakes testing provides the reader with a promising perspective for thinking about the impact of assessment on children with cultural and linguistic differences.
- Children who are struggling with reading have a right to receive intensive instruction from professionals specifically prepared to teach reading. David Hernandez summarizes two articles: one a review of the literature on the role of the reading specialist and one a set of case studies of struggling readers.
- Children have a right to reading instruction that involves parents and communities in their academic lives. Patricia A. Edwards's piece challenges the traditional notion of the lack of literacy in the homes of children who are impoverished and/or are new immigrants. She provides suggestions for how teachers can learn about multiple literacy environments and work with parents in more productive and knowledgeable ways.
- Children have a right to reading instruction that makes meaningful use of their first language skills. Robert S. Rueda's review of three articles on students who are English language learners provides a primer for educators on the role of first language in literacy learning. In addition, he offers suggestions for teachers who do not share a common language with their students in their efforts to value and support the students' linguistic background.
- Children have the right to equal access to the technology used for the improvement of reading instruction. Paola Pilonieta and William E. Blanton provide an overview of issues related to access to technology and literacy. They also highlight examples of programs in urban settings that have promise for shrinking the digital divide between affluent and economically challenged schools.
- Children have a right to classrooms that optimize learning opportunities. Jeanne R. Paratore gives an overview of the literature on the following school characteristics that impact the quality of reading instruction: class size, instructional materials, well-prepared teachers, family and community involvement, and well-maintained buildings. She also reviews three articles that address one or more of these factors. Recognizing the complexity of noninstructional factors, Paratore underscores the promise of collaborative efforts so that "no single teacher, administrator, parent, or school board member can 'go it alone."
The commission invited two young scholars, Jennifer D. Turner and Youb Kim, to write an afterword to serve as a capstone piece for this collection. We asked Turner and Kim to reflect on the bridge pieces as well as the collection of articles and to provide insights about a vision for future efforts of the commission and the field in general. The authors framed their piece around issues related to key stakeholder ownership of literacy instruction. The issues they posed as well as their challenges for future efforts in literacy instruction and teacher education provide direction for next steps.
Carmelita Kimber Williams and Richard Long provided an overview of the Urban Diversity Initiatives Commission's mission and accomplishments.
Lina Lopez Chiappone summarized more than 70 IRA books and articles in an annotated bibliography of work published since 1990. This collection of resources represents IRA's strong commitment to urban education, which we hope will serve as a springboard for future research.
Finally, William T. Hammond contributed a list of websites that provide additional information about issues and promising practices in urban reading instruction.
We think readers will agree that Promising Practices for Urban Reading Instruction is indeed an appetizer. The volume clearly demonstrates IRA's commitment to disseminating research and instructional practices for improving the quality of education for students in urban settings. But we have a long way to go before our hunger can be satisfied. We encourage our colleagues in research to continue seeking answers and to find ways to bring research into practice. We encourage our colleagues in administration and in the classroom to continue sharing what works in your settings. We encourage parents, community leaders, and students to raise their voices and lend their hands to help students grasp the gift of literacy. With these collective efforts, a second edition of this volume can find us closer to making the rights a reality for all.