Reading to Learn : Lessons from Exemplary Fourth-Grade Classrooms book cover
1st Edition

Reading to Learn
Lessons from Exemplary Fourth-Grade Classrooms

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ISBN 9781572307629
Published July 25, 2002 by Guilford Press
254 Pages

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Book Description

Fourth-graders around the country face new, high-stakes standardized tests, drawing increased attention to the need for effective literacy instruction in the upper-elementary grades. This essential book goes beyond political catch-phrases to examine what actually works in the fourth-grade classroom. After reviewing current research on upper-elementary reading instruction, the book takes readers directly into the classrooms of six highly successful teachers. Like the previously published Learning to Read, which focused on the first grade, Reading to Learn offers a rare view of the techniques and strategies good teachers use to engage students, help them develop as thoughtful readers and writers, and bolster self-directed learning and literate conversation. Bringing to life the complexities of day-to-day work with diverse students, the book provides inspiration and practical ideas for any teacher in the upper-elementary grades.

Table of Contents

I. What Do We Know and Need to Know about Good Fourth-Grade Teaching?
1. Teaching Fourth Grade in the 21st Century
2. What Do We Know about Effective Fourth-Grade Teachers

II. What Do Good Fourth-Grade Classrooms Look and Feel Like?
3. Inquiry and Good Conversation: I Learn a Lot from Them
Peter H. Johnston and Joan Backer
4. Responsibility and Respect for Themselves and for Whatever It Is
They're Doing: Learning to Be Literate in an Inclusive Classroom
Gay Ivey
5. Focus on the Real and Make Sure It Connects to Kids' Lives
Ruth Wharton-McDonald and June Williamson
6. We Learn from Each Other: Collaboration and Community
in a Bilingual Classroom
Jeni Pollack Day
7. A Caring, Responsible Learning Community
Peter H. Johnston and Mary Ellen Quinlan
8. I Want Students Who Are Thinkers
Peter H. Johnston, Tracey Bennett, and John Cronin

III. What Have We Learned about Good Fourth-Grade Teaching?
9. Integrated Instruction in Fourth-Grade Classrooms
10. Literate Achievements in Fourth Grade
11. The Nature of Good Fourth-Grade Teaching

Shifting the Focus of the Reading Debate: A Cautionary Afterword
Gerald G. Duffy

Appendix. Achievement Growth on Standardized Reading Tests
Children's Publications Cited

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Richard L. Allington, PhD, is the Irving and Rose Fien Professor of Education at the University of Florida, where he continues the study of exemplary elementary teaching.

Peter H. Johnston, PhD, is a Professor in the Reading Department at the University at Albany, State University of New York, and a senior researcher for the National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement.


This book is a gift, offering a rare opportunity to examine the complexities and dilemmas of successful fourth-grade literacy teaching. Allington and Johnston provide the theoretical and research foundation to make Reading to Learn an excellent text for preservice teachers and graduate students. Yet the policy discussion and rich descriptions of classrooms across the country where fourth-grade students achieve at high levels will also make it a valuable resource for elementary teacher study groups. Will join our list of 'must-reads'.--Brenda Joiner Overturf, EdD, District Reading Specialist, Jefferson County Public Schools, Louisville, KY

This book sets the pace for what teaching--and therefore, assessment--could and should become. The authors provide rich descriptions of classroom environments where students enthusiastically and confidently accept responsibility for their own learning during the fourth-grade shift from 'learning to read' to 'reading to learn.' The voices of students are clearly heard in the case studies, and the lack of a 'cookie-cutter' model of teaching is reassuring. The key ingredients of effective instruction are illuminated, including inquiry, dialogue, diversity, variety, participation, and respect. Together, these concepts add up to learning that is serious fun!--Kathy N. Headley, EdD, Department of Reading Education, Clemson University

Reading to Learn is a powerful portrayal of literacy teaching in American schools, captured in the revealing stories of six exemplary fourth-grade teachers. Giving new meaning to the term 'high stakes,' the authors offer compelling evidence that literacy teaching in fourth grade is an effortful, multidimensional, and highly complex enterprise. They put the focus back where it belongs--on student-teacher interactions rather than formalized tests and overly simplistic reforms. This volume should be required reading for every educator and policymaker concerned with literacy development in today's postindustrial society.--Patricia A. Alexander, PhD, Department of Human Development, University of Maryland