Teaching Reading in Middle School: A Strategic Approach to Comprehension
Reviewed by Laura Von Staden
New reading teachers, rejoice! Laura Robb, well recognized as an authority on teaching reading, answers every question you could have about teaching reading at the middle school level. The revised 2nd edition of her book from Scholastic is jam-packed with specific examples of how to teach using reading workshop, including how to prepare your students from day one of school to be involved and motivated to make the workshop experience a success.
Robb gives specific examples of how to teach classroom procedures and demonstrates the use of reading inventories which are included on an accompanying CD. The CD is packed with 80 forms that Robb shows you how to use throughout the book. She also gives example lessons for a number of strategy mini lessons, and explains how to use these lessons with the reading workshop in both a block schedule and 45 minute class period structure.
What you’ll find inside
Robb gives thorough consideration to setting up the classroom, how to teach with reading workshop, ways to stay connected and in tune with students throughout the year, how to teach mini-lessons, and the types of strategies that work best when taught in a mini-lesson.
She then demonstrates a full book study complete with before-reading, during-reading and after-reading strategies and lessons, using the reading workshop and mini-lesson format.
Robb rounds out the book with the topics of conferencing with students, independent reading, strategic grouping that is dynamic and flexible, and closes with the topic of assessment. All of the topics are dealt with in detail, giving specific examples of implementation in the classroom, complete with potential scripts and student work samples.
Four key features of instruction
Robb continually comes back to four key features:
(1) knowing your students and meeting them where they are (selecting the correct groupings, independent reading, conference topics, etc. to get reluctant readers motivated to read);
(2) modeling everything;
(3) making our thinking visible using a think aloud;
(4) and selecting the proper anchor text.
She uses primarily picture books for her anchor texts and provides not only specific examples of picture books being used in each of the sections of the book, but also includes an extensive additional list of picture books sorted by strategy/topic.
At the end of each chapter Robb provides professional study suggestions which include a listing of additional books as resources. Speaking of resources, every tool and organizer that Robb discusses and uses in her classes is provided on the included CD.
This book is almost like having an expert in the room to guide your teaching on a daily basis. The only shortcoming of this 2nd edition is that it was published in 2010 and does not directly address the Common Core standards. Nevertheless, the book is extremely useful, as it demonstrates good teaching strategies for reading which can be adapted to the new standards. I would recommend it as a valuable supplement to your Common Core book collection and a great resource for teaching reading.
Laura Von Staden has a Ph.D. in Molecular Immunology and a Master’s in Special Education. She is a Special Education Middle School Teacher in Tampa, Florida, where she serves on numerous committees both at her school and within her district and works closely with the local university where she serves as a master mentor.Dr. Von Staden also serves as a facilitator for an online teacher learning community sponsored by her local teacher organization.