Teaching Reading in the Middle School
Reviewed by Janice Rustico
Let’s face it – as teachers we have all been offered numerous resources to help us teach reading. It doesn’t matter what subject we teach, we need to teach reading across all disciplines. As a former language arts teacher and now as a 6-8 Literacy Coach, I’ve had more training in teaching reading than probably anything else throughout my life.
So why did I choose to review Teaching Reading in the Middle School, Common Core and More, by Anna J. Small Roseboro?
When I received the book, I asked myself the same question. What was I thinking? How could I possibly get through this book by the end of the school year and write a review? It looks daunting – small print, over 200 pages, and not a particularly reader-friendly format. But I had made a commitment and I was going to follow through! I was pleasantly surprised when I found some time to dig in.
If you’re looking for some light reading before bedtime, this isn’t the book for you. It was not a book that I picked up and read through. I had to read it in bits and pieces. What I discovered were some excellent nuggets that I couldn’t wait to share with my teachers. It made me think about how we teach elements of a book and strategies to help with comprehension.
The eight chapters all deal with something we teach throughout the school year.
- Scoping Out the Year in Preview – Plan Now to be Effective and Efficient
- Networking Socially at the Start of the School Year
- Unpacking the Story and Understanding the Genre
- Crossing into Novel Territory – Reading Longer Texts
- Teaching Classical Fiction: Where the Ghosts of the Past Speak Today
- Teaching Historical Fiction: Opening the Past Imaginatively
- Taking T.I.M.E to Teach Poetry (title, imagery, music, and emotion)
- Reading, Writing, and Performing Drama: Playing it Right
This book also includes a helpful appendix with teacher resources.
Explicit instructions to unlock strategies
What sets this book apart from other professional books I have read is that it not only gives a rational for using the author’s strategies, but it explicitly offers step-by-step instructions on how to unlock some of these previously elusive strategies. I say elusive because I know that some of the Common Core standards are difficult for some teachers to translate into engaging and meaningful lessons.
Not only does this book offer help with teaching the standards, it breaks down the need for certain structures in the classroom. For example, on page 56, the author states, “Sharing desk space is a psychological reminder to students that they are sharing what they are learning, so encourage the students to collaborate by pulling their desks together and talking with one another.”
Roseboro, recipient of the 2016 NCTE Distinguished Service Award, goes on to tell the teacher what she should be looking for as she circulates the room. As a literacy coach, having concrete examples such as these can be much more impactful than my stating a suggestion to teachers. As I coach teachers, along with my other resources, I have sometimes shared just one example of something from this book to help with their teaching.
I would recommend Teaching Reading in the Middle School, Common Core and More to literacy coaches, instructional coaches, administrators, or teachers who are looking for resources to help with reading. I would not give this to teachers and expect them to read through it and implement the strategies and suggestions in this book. As we expect teachers to differentiate for their students, I would use this book to differentiate for teachers according to their individual needs.
Janice Rustico is a former language arts teacher and is currently a literacy coach working with language arts and social studies teachers. Her focus is interdisciplinary literacy. Janice resides in Connecticut.