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ERIC Number: EJ759437
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Feb-16
Pages: 3
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0277-4232
Dynamic Duo
Manzo, Kathleen Kennedy
Education Week, v24 n23 p37-39 Feb 2005
While researchers generally agree that literacy skills should be taught directly to adolescents across the curriculum, and that there are adequate research-based strategies for doing so, expets point out that much of that information has failed to reach the classroom, or has been ignored by teachers, who are either ill prepared or disinclined to incorporate those approaches. "Ensuring adequate ongoing literacy development for all students in the middle and high school years is a more challenging task than ensuring excellent reading education in the primary grades," Harvard researcher Catherine E. Snow wrote in a 2004 report on adolescent literacy for the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Alliance for Excellent Education, a Washington-based research and advocacy organization. "Secondary literacy skills are more complex, more embedded in the subject matter, and more multiply determined. Second, adolescents are not as universally motivated to read better or as interested in school-based reading as kindergartners." In this article, the author describes how two brothers are leading the charge for literacy skills in their Illinois high school. When Dennis and Dan Szymkowiak get together for family gatherings, school talk dominates the conversation. As teachers at the same high school in the middle-class suburb north of Chicago--Dennis in English, and Dan in mathematics--there is always catching up to do on administrative issues, school events, and students the brothers have in common. But when their two sisters, who are elementary school teachers, and Dan's wife, a middle school science teacher, join in the conversation, the focus invariably turns to instruction, and the challenges of helping students understand their respective subjects. At Mundelein High School, Dennis and Dan Szymkowiak knew they could not wait for definitive guidance from researchers. They began working together to study the existing research and find ways to make literacy a foundation of their classes. They even developed an integrated English/Mathematics course, in which students studied carefully selected literary texts and applied mathematical principles to learn about statistics and logic based on the numerical content of the texts. They have also made the rounds together at literacy conferences, raising some eyebrows among participants about the curious pairing. "They look at me and say, 'What is a math teacher doing here?'" says Dan Szymkowiak. "But they realize we all have the same problems with our students. With Dennis' help, and with other teachers', we came to have a common language and some common strategies for helping kids process the content." His brother Dennis agrees, noting that teachers who combine traditional instruction with literacy strategies have better-performing students.
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Illinois