Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Teaching Books: Bridging the Literacy Achievement Gap Grades 4-12 edited by Dorothy S. Strickland and Donna E. Alvermann

[I'm not going to try to review the books I'm reading as part of my transition to becoming an educator. However, I do want to at least do summaries, both for myself and if anyone's interested. Consider these mini-reviews, if you will.]

This book presents a series of articles by a large variety of authors addressing what is called the achievement gap. The first section discusses the idea of the achievement gap and what it means to education. Next is a section showing how various districts attacked the achievement gap and the progress they made.

That latter section is by far the most interesting, showing concrete examples from "failing" schools and the ways in which they overcame issues ranging from funding to violence to teacher indifference.

Almost every case study stressed that doing things as they'd always been done cannot be accepted. They also were frank about what worked and what didn't. Often, plans had to be changed after they did not work as expected. A lot of times, the first thing that had to change was the culture. Once new ideas were accepted, change happened.

Most interesting to me was the idea that in the cases that seemed to work the best, plenty of time was given to make the necessary changes. Success was not expected in year one, two, or even three, nor was failure condemned. The key was working on things, tweaking them, and reaching a goal within a set period of time.

Somewhat more dense and academic than it needed to be, but the content definitely makes up for it.

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