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Breakthroughs in Literacy: Teacher Success Stories and Strategies, Grades K-8

ISBN: 978-0-470-37182-4
240 pages
August 2009, Jossey-Bass
Breakthroughs in Literacy: Teacher Success Stories and Strategies, Grades K-8 (047037182X) cover image
Teachers share advice on creating successful literacy classrooms for all students, including those who struggle

This much-needed resource is filled with lively and inspiring stories from teachers who overcame challenges with underperforming and struggling learners-many of them special needs students-to make significant breakthroughs in reading and writing instruction. The teachers reveal their trials, errors, and triumphs in how they discovered particular instructional strategies or incorporated modeling and motivational techniques that best addressed students' learning needs and opened a path to success. Compelling and absorbing, the book includes unusual and often surprising approaches for connecting with students, including books that made a difference.

  • Offers wisdom, inspiration, and guidance on working with varied students to improve reading and writing skills
  • Contains 29 stories from real-world teachers who have had success in teaching literacy
  • Summary sections focus on key breakthrough strategies, lessons learned, reflection questions, actions tips, and recommended resources
  • Describes effective modeling, motivational, and engagement practices
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Introduction:Why Teacher Stories? xi

Acknowledgments xix

The Author and Editor xxi

The Contributors xxiii

PART ONE Connection: Knowing the Learner

About the Stories 3
Susan E. Israel

Expecting the Aha!Moment 7
Karen Kindle

Facing My Chair Forward 11
Limor Pinhasi-Vittorio

Books Will Be Her Legs 17
Vicki S. Collet

"I Guess Kids Can Be Teachers Sometimes" 21
Cynthia J. Poston

Through the Red Door of Room 207 25
Angie Zapata

To Know Them Is to Teach Them 29
Martha Ford

Reflections on the Breakthroughs 33
Susan E. Israel

breakthrough elements 34

reflection questions 35

lessons learned 36

ten literacy breakthrough actions

you can take today 37

further reading 38

PART TWO Motivation: The Right Book Can Make a Difference

About the Stories 43
Susan E. Israel

Carpet Fuzz, a Staple, and a Story 47
Danna Parsons

A Plan to Listen 51
Emily Manning

Every Picture Tells a Story: Supporting Young Authors with Wordless Picture Books 55
Elizabeth M. Frye

"I'm an Amazing Reader!" 59
Karen A. Jorgensen

A Special Boy Teaches Us Special Lessons 63
William P. Bintz and Pamela L.Wright

Kids Become Better Readers . . . by Reading! 67
Kathy A. Egawa

The Mattie Club: Created by Children Who Love Poetry and Life 73
Lindsay P. Grow

My Opinion: No One Ever Asked Before 77
Lisa Janes

Spiderman to the Rescue 81
Daniel T. Holm

Reflections on the Breakthroughs 87
Susan E. Israel

breakthrough elements 88

reflection questions 90

lessons learned 90

ten literacy breakthrough actions

you can take today 91

further reading 92

PART THREE Engagement: Multisensory Experiences

About the Stories 97
Susan E. Israel

Learning to Read His Own Way 99
Terry S. Atkinson

If They Can't Learn the Way We Teach,Maybe We Should Teach the Way They Learn 103
Nina L. Nilsson

"I Gotta Touch the Book!" Reading Aloud with Young Toddlers 109
Amelia C. Evans and Mariana Souto-Manning

"What Does This Say?" A Small Request with Huge Implications 113
Marianne McTavish

Gifts from My Heart 117
Mary J. Banta

Ten-Year-Olds, Tapes, and the Epiphany 121
Sheila Gaquin

Why Art? 125
Monique Poldberg

Reflections on the Breakthroughs 129
Susan E. Israel

breakthrough elements 130

reflection questions 132

lessons learned 133

ten literacy breakthrough actions

you can take today 134

further reading 135

PART FOUR Transformation: Learning Together

About the Stories 139
Susan E. Israel

Perseverance,Motivation, and Collaboration: The Tools Needed for Success 141
Katie Sullivan

Better Than a Base Hit 145
Deborah Vessels

"Cheeese!" 149
Gina A. Goble

Formulaic Writing Is Not for Everyone: Especially Gifted First Graders 153
Evangelina "Gigi" Brignoni

Spelling, Reading, and Writing Give Joey an Unexpected Voice and His Teacher and Classmates Inspiration 157
Richard M. Oldrieve

"You Know Those Marks . . . ?" 163
Alexa L. Sandmann

Nudging One Reluctant Writer into Action 167
Lori Berman Wolf

Reflections on the Breakthroughs 177
Susan E. Israel

breakthrough elements 178

reflection questions 179

lessons learned 180

ten literacy breakthrough actions

you can take today 180

further reading 181

PART FIVE Conclusion

Seven Pathways to Literacy Learning 185
Susan E. Israel

pathway #1: be open to discovery 187

pathway #2: develop an “i can” attitude 188

pathway #3: cultivate students’ trust 190

pathway #4: match strategy to the learner 191

pathway #5: celebrate achievements 192

pathway #6: seek wisdom from others 193

pathway #7: make teaching personal 193

References 197

Index 201

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Susan E. Israel, PhD., is an independent researcher, writer, and literacy consultant. A former elementary teacher, she has written and edited books for the International Reading Association.
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