g., using prior knowledge, self-monitoring for breaks in comprehension, and analyzing new vocabulary);growth in conceptual knowledge (e.g., reading tradebooks to supplement textbook information) (Alvermann, D, 2001).
However a very important thing I should mention is the existence of big gaps in adolescent literacy achievement in high school, as I noted above, but, the gap was also defined as the disparity in White and Black students' achievement and in richer and poorer students' achievement. And what is even more worrying is that despite the longstanding federal agenda to reduce this disparity, it has remained largely unchanged. As I have shown, gaps exist between adolescents in terms of literacy achievement that seem to be even more evident among minority groups.
However, compared to early literacy, 9-12 students' literacy has receive less attention up to the present moment. Today there is a growing interest in adolescent literacy but however, early literacy has several advantages both in research and practice over adolescent literacy. For instance, the constant research showed has taken into account the stages of development of young children, and studied literacy according the needs in different stages of development. They established the skills needed for acquiring emergent literacy or writing and conventional literacy etc. Moreover, in order to benefit from the theoretical and practical research, children also benefit from a wide range of children's books and magazines. In classes focused a great deal on literacy, teachers incorporate the characteristics of literacy-rich home environments, but they also use grouping for learning developmentally appropriate practices, and literacy routines; in addition, they have classroom designs that continue to encourage reading and writing (McGee & Richgels, 1996) through learning centers and engaged learning activities.(Kerbow, D., 1999)
Nevertheless, children also benefit from the proven methods of early reading instruction in classrooms - for instance the program Reading First. This program was designed to apply scientifically-based reading principles in school instruction. Another example is the program Reading recovery which is thought to be the best available program for preventing reading failure. All in all, none of these programs are available for adolescents, as the overview on research proved. Adolescent literacy is still in research stage and instruction has not yet fully benefited from this.
Literacy can be defined on a number of levels. It is obviously concerned with the ability to read and write but a fuller definition might be the capacity to recognize, reproduce and manipulate the conventions of text shared by a given community. Literacy, in relation to adolescent learners, is defined by Jetton and Dole (2004) as constructive, fluent, strategic, motivated, and a lifelong pursuit.
The practices of today's literacy in grades 9-12 is very well highlighted by research,
For instance, the practice of adolescent literacy is described by Donna Alvermann in her articles, like the one concerned with how adolescents make meaning of popular culture texts by observing them in action. ("Image, Language, and Sound: Making Meaning with Popular Culture Texts," Donna E. Alvermannn, et. al). They were concerned with the identification of strategies the subject used in relation to texts from popular culture (rap music) and discovered that literacy strategies were applied by making use of different media supports. Another area of research is focused on reading instruction that attends to the needs of learners aged 11 to 14 years who struggle. Gwynne Ellen Ash suggests a pragmatic framework to be applied for such readers. She suggests that framework consists of five practices -- daily oral or shared reading, guided reading in flexible groups, word study, self-selected extended reading and writing, and explicit comprehension strategy instruction. Its origin is in classroom experience, work with middle school teachers, and a synthesis of successful tutoring programs and critical literacy theories. The framework is designed to guide classroom teachers in planning and organizing literacy instruction for young adolescent students at all levels of literacy development.
Another practice in today's literacy is connected to vocabulary teaching. Research by Mary E. Curtis and Ann Marie Longo proved that reading below grade level could be improved significantly by instruction that developed student's vocabularies through listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Concerning instructional practices researchers focused upon teaching reading in academically diverse classrooms in which students with reading disabilities were enrolled. For instance, Salembier G. And colleagues developed such an instructional program called SCAN and RUN that was developed for the specific purpose of assisting middle and secondary general educators to promote greater reading comprehension development in a wider range of students. The SCAN and RUN mnemonic was designed so as to consist of seven cues for strategies that assist students with actively planning and monitoring their comprehension before, during, and after reading expository text and the results were very encouraging.
In what concerns the actual practice of literacy, as the research mentioned above also highlights they are organized around teaching of grammar, writing, classic literature, reading comprehension, standardized testing content.
However, in what concerns the strategies applied in different school settings, a Survey by HMI in 50 secondary schools proved that the following strategies were more often used:
1) Paired reading schemes, often involving Key Stage 4 or post-16 students working with poor readers in Year 7.
2) Use of "writing frames," DARTS and similar approaches.
3) Key word and concept teaching by several departments.
4) Reading periods (ERIC, USSR, etc.).
5) Specific contributions by English departments.
6) Enhanced SEN work, including literacy hours, reading recovery and other structured approaches.
7) Effective EAL work that influences teaching and learning practice across the curriculum.
8) Summer literacy schemes.
9) Some aspects of commercial schemes.
10) Study skills work, often involving the library/resource centre; opportunities to use library facilities before, during and after school, with staff available to help pupils.
11) Strategies in English, SEN and a range of subjects to improve the performance of boys.
12) Reading and writing clinics and clubs; homework clubs.
13) Continuing support in Key Stage 4 (and beyond), sometimes in the context of communication key skills in a vocational course.
14) Special events, including book fairs, book weeks, visiting writers, storytelling sessions, handwriting competitions.
15) Specially prepared worksheets.
16) Marking policies and practice.
17) Literacy support workers working with nominated pupils across the curriculum.
Literacy achievement is due in a great proportion to the teachers. The teachers should inform themselves about the current research and of the implications of research in practice. However, there is also formal preparation available for teachers in several universities. For instance Colorado University developed a program for teacher preparation in literacy practice. The program issued as a result of the fact that "Recent advances in scientific research in reading have necessitated a sense of urgency to move the knowledge acquired from the convergence of research findings into daily practice in the classrooms of Colorado."
Because the reading achievement scores among Colorado's children over the last several years show limited growth the Colorado State Board of Education has established a focused priority on increasing literacy achievement in Colorado and also established an instructional program for teachers. The literacy courses include Scientifically-Based Reading Research and Comprehensive Literacy Curriculum and Instruction, the organization of literacy instruction based on ongoing assessment, the development of phonological and linguistic skills related to reading, the development reading comprehension and promotion of independent reading, the support of reading through oral and written language development (focus on vocabulary, writing etc.), to utilize Colorado Model Content Standards in reading and writing for the improvement of instruction. Another example of university that ensures continuous teacher preparation is New Jersey University. New Jersey Commission On Higher Education awarded grants to four state colleges and universities under the Teacher Preparation Grant Program designed to increase the number of highly effective teachers prepared to teach math, science, special education, preschool, and literacy in urban schools. The objective is similar to that of Colorado University: "Ensuring quality education for New Jersey's children is a top priority of our administration," (Governor McGreevey). "These grants are targeted to improving the quality of classroom instruction, which is the single greatest factor toward improving a child's performance."
However, we may conclude that universities are aware of the great need for teacher preparation programs in literacy as the research becomes more relevant and suggesting more ways of improving students' literacy.
The Language and Literacy Department of Georgia State University is committed to the development of scholars who understand the processes through which literacy learning occurs and who can apply that understanding to improving instruction and learning in all areas of the language arts. The Department offers a variety of advanced literacy degrees for teachers including teacher preparation programs which lead to initial certification and M.Ed. In English Education, Reading, Language, and Literacy, Middle Childhood, and ESOL; Master's Degrees in Reading, Language and Literacy Education, and English Education; an Ed.S. In Teaching and Learning; and a Ph.D. In Teaching and Learning. In Georgia, a Reading Consortium was formed in 1998 to strategize ways to meet today's high literacy demands and to improve reading instruction in PreK-12 schools. The…