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Inexperienced Readers

Fostering Adolescents’ Engaged Academic Literacy

This research handbook emphasizes social and cultural factors in adolescents’ approach to communication and response to instruction, and sections address literacy both in and out of schools, including literacy expectations in the contemporary workplace. Detailed attention is given to issues of diversity and individual differences among learners.

Distinguished contributors examine how well adolescents are served by current instructional practices and highlight ways to translate research findings more effectively into sound teaching and policymaking.

In a key chapter, WestEd’s Ruth Schoenbach and Cynthia Greenleaf provide evidence that educators can have a significant impact on students’ academic engagement and achievement by fostering adolescent students’ development in four interrelated areas: (1) dispositions for engagement in academic tasks; (2) disciplinary knowledge; (3) capacities for problem solving with texts; and (4) shifts in learner identity. They illustrate their discussion of discipline-specific learning with snapshots from a high school chemistry and history class. These teachers’ classrooms can be seen in the videos linked below.

Watch related video > Intro to Chemistry (2:49)

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Intro to Chemistry


Will Brown’s Oakland high school students are profoundly inexperienced readers. But their teacher invites them to learn about acids and bases by asking questions, making connections, and noticing where the reading gets sticky. Then they problem solve.

Watch related video > Honors U.S. History (5:21)

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Honors U.S. History


Many of the students in Gayle Crib’s honors class are English learners or former English learners. All of them do the work of historians by grappling with primary sources, making text-based arguments, and helping each other think through reading challenges.

AUTHORS
Ruth Schoenbach, Cynthia Greenleaf
Handbook of Adolescent Literacy Research, edited by Leila Christenbury, Randy Boomer, Peter Smagorinsky
Hardcover: $50.00, 452 pages, Guilford Press, 2010

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