Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males

Today I had the wonderful opportunity to hear Dr. Alfred Tatum speak on engaging black males in the area of reading.  He is the author of many books including Reading for their Life, Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males, among others.  Dr. Tatum is a professor at University of Chicago.  I think it's important to share what I learned for those who have not been able to hear him speak before.

  • Students read the human text before they will read any other text.  Your body language, attitude toward teaching, and way you treat students is of vital importance.
  • Reading and the life context of your students needs to be considered together.  The texts that are selected need to engage readers- you can't simply select books based on their reading level.
  • To elaborate on the point above, the text worked on in class should make your students better readers and teach them something.  It's helpful to use nonfiction texts and/or fiction books that expand students' schemas.  Students should think differently after working on a text.
  • When presenting text to students, Dr. Tatum always starts with introducing the title of the work, selecting an engaging sentence or paragraph to read aloud, and asking engaging questions that get students thinking on a deep level.
  • After completing the above step, Dr. Tatum will introduce vocabulary, work on comprehension through reading the story, and finally extend the story to allow students to process the information at a higher level.
  • Dr. Tatum believes in combining fiction and nonfiction texts within lessons.
  • Your students should see you reading and writing.  If they are working, they need to see it is something that you value as well.
  • Finally, YOU should be transformed by the text you put in front of students.  If the text does not make you think or change your schema, it should not be put in front of students.

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