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Posted By: Daniel Pryzbyla on May 14, 2003
Well, I meant to respond to Mannion's response, but apparently there's a gaff in the program and it kept sending me back to her comment.

English as a second language (ESL) would seem to have a different approach - I think - than non-ESL. Of course, this opens a can of worms, so to speak.

She's correct that the "problem" keeps going backward to the previous level - middle school age. There, too, the "problem" then goes further backward to the "elementary" level. You get the picture.

So, knowing this - we're back to the original treatise. I don't think it can be done in a "regular" classroom. At this age we get into the age of very high level "self-consciousness." If kids even show up at school wearing the "wrong" style clothing, they're humiliated beyond belief. Now imagine them trying to struggle in a classroom of their peers through their reading deficiencies.

I would think you might have to accept starting with "small pull out" groups. When these students can say, "Hey, this is cool," then it will be these kids who can attract others into the "class." Importantly, you would have to put a "positive spin" on this "pull out" group - nothing negative. What we're saying is that these students have to be able to keep their "self-image" from being damaged. This is not a "dummy class." Nor are we insinuating they must join the "nerd" clan for them to succeed in life. This, too, would meet with resistance.

Equally important, if possible, would get some of the low-level reading "leaders" (in other areas outside academic) to become part of the "pull out" sessions. They have a powerful influence within the school setting - more so than many teachers even realize.

Just some thoughts from a now retired middle school level teacher in both Chicago and Milwaukee central city schools where I had the same problems up for discussion. Did I try my suggestions. No, there were other programs going on, and as all other teachers - I was bogged down with dealing with 60 students every day (team teaching)and the problems that are considered "normal."

Dan Pryzbyla
Milwaukee, WI
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 Teaching high school aged non and low readers to read by R. Warren Donelan on April 15, 2003
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