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When Kids Can't Read-What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12
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When Kids Can't Read-What Teachers Can Do: A Guide for Teachers 6-12

4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  1,192 ratings  ·  127 reviews
For Kylene Beers, the question of what to do when kids can't read surfaced abruptly in 1979 when she began teaching. That year, she discovered that some of the students in her seventh-grade language arts classes could pronounce all the words, but couldn't make any sense of the text. Others couldn't even pronounce the words. And that was the year she met a boy named George. ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published October 22nd 2002 by Heinemann Educational Books
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Written by a real teacher who likes kids and recognizes the huge number of them who fall through the cracks in public junior high and high school classrooms. Starts off with a story of her own painful experience with this.

If you're a teacher like I or the author was, you have had kids (probably more than one per class) who can't do the work you assign because of reading deficits. With 30+ others to deal with, it's easy to just shine these kids on. You can flunk them or give them a D and pass th
WOW - excellent resource for reading teachers of all grades, not just the targeted 6th-12th graders in the subtitle! If more lower grade teachers used these strategies and techniques, perhaps there would be less of a need for this book in secondary grades. In fact, a 3rd grade class showed me their version of "Somebody wanted-but-so" (complete with hand motions) during a summary lesson in the library this week, the day after I read that chapter! So many great charts, question prompts, scales, li ...more
Kylene Beers has become my middle school literacy hero.
Kylene Beers explains what her first year of teaching was like and I remember feeling the exact same way when I first started teaching. I read this as an undergraduate student, but it holds so much more meaning now as a practicing teacher of both writing and literacy. I keep it on hand as a reference when I need to refresh my memory about how to help struggling readers. I love all her stories of things that really happened to her in her own classroom. I felt it gave the book an authentic voice a ...more
This book is worth the full cost of my M.A. program. Well-written, practical, full of strategies...I can't really imagine being an English teacher without it.
Tristan Miller
This book will change the way I teach. The students she describes in her book... I see them every day in middle school. Ultimately, we have to question: are we teaching the material, or are we teaching the student? Instruction must change to fix the problems we have with reading in this country. For me, this title plus her other, Notice and Note, is 70% of what a teacher needs to know to teach reading.

If you have students who struggle with any aspect of reading (and you might not realize it unt
I really enjoy reading Kylene Beers' work. I've read her book on Adolescent Literacy before this one, and I find the advice she gives to be practical and useful in the classroom. It feels kind of silly to me that I read this book at the very end of my reading specialist training, as it basically outlines what I've wanted to know all along. She doesn't get overly-theoretical or philosophical, and she doesn't blame kids reading problems on broader social issues. She just gives you practical strate ...more
This is an excellent practical guide on how to teach reading comprehension, vocabulary-building, and decoding strategies to middle and high school students--especially if (like me) you have a lot of content knowledge but aren't quite clear on how to teach kids the most basic aspects of reading. Essentially a cookbook for English teachers, When Kids Can't Read not only offers specific strategies (often involving graphic organizers or outright picture creation, like "Vocabulary Trees" and the "Som ...more
This is now my Bible. It's amazing. It gives so many suggestions to teachers who have kids who struggle with reading. I'd recommend this for any English teacher (even high school English teachers-- because, as Dr. Beers points out, there are many upper-grade students who have trouble reading because no one has yet taught them how to do it). But I'd also recommend it for teachers of any subject, along with parents, aunts, uncles, and anyone who is around children or has the least bit of interest ...more
This book has been amazing. I have used many of the strategies in my 5th grade reading classroom, of which almost every student was academically behind several grade levels at the beginning of the year. I wish I had known of this book earlier, and I'm sure the gains my students made had been even greater. This book is well-organized and focuses on activities students truly enjoy. I appreciated the personal touch of Kylene's experiences with a student she feels she failed through letters to him. ...more
Dede Smith
A must read for every teacher-the title indicates that this is a guide for teachers of grades 6-12. I disagree. The author cites specific strategies and instructional practices to use in the teaching of reading - no matter what grade you teach. "We must, at all times, remember that we don't teach a subject, we teach you-specific children with specific needs. And there's not a teacher out there who doesn't know you. You come from all nations, from all ethnic groups, as a boy or girl. You are from ...more
Lots of great strategies with real application examples from actual high school classrooms. I have found it difficult to find resources for my high schoolers who struggle--so much is meant for elementary students--and this book has been invaluable.
This book was a great "shot-in-the-arm" for me!! My present postiion is the Librarain in a Middle School, but I feel like I still wear my "reading teacher" hat - thanks to being able to collaborate with the reading teachers in my building. This book is so easy to read and understand - I'm thinking about having my night class students read parts of it. My favorite quote showed up on p.287 -"As one young man told me once about tough books, "I want to meet these characters on the pages of a book be ...more
I read this quite a few years ago. Great book full of examples and practical advice. Beers is a teacher; she knows what goes on in the classroom. EVERYONE, not just ELA teachers, should read this.
Shifting Phases
Readable and helpful. A bit more elaborated than Cris Tovani, so a slower read, but full of enough narrative that it feels like watching someone teach.

Creating Independent Readers
Assessing Dependent Readers' Needs
Explicit Instruction in Comprehension
Learning To Make An Inference (includes helpful list of types of inferences)
Frontloading Strategies: Pre-Reading Strategies
Constructing Meaning: During-Reading Strategies
Extending Meaning: After-Reading Strategies
Vocabulary: Figuring Out What Wo
Joy Prior
Honest and will use in my class. A lot related to upper grades and I teach kindergarten so there will be more group writing and teacher think aloud than standard but quality ideas for sure
Bridget Yarusso
A very practical guide to recognizing and reaching out to struggling readers in the classroom. Beers provides theory and strategy for new and old teachers who want to grow lifelong readers when there is a noticeable drop in preadolescents' interest in reading academically or otherwise. Each chapter begins with a sometimes heartbreaking note to "George", a struggling reader from Beer's first year of teaching that she could not/did not help because she did not understand what she knows now. These ...more
Renae Salisbury
Apr 01, 2012 Renae Salisbury rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: all teachers
Recommended to Renae by: Anna
I have read this book in bits and pieces, but I am now reading it from cover to cover, and I love it. Beers writes with humor, passion and knowledge - not just from academic achievement but also from serving in the trenches. Her definition of struggling readers reminds us that at one time or other, we are all struggling readers when faced with different types of reading. Her clear explanations and suggested instructional strategies are top-notch. Sprinkled among the chapters are her letters to G ...more
I actually didn't quite finish this; just slightly over halfway read. It was ok; but I'm hardly motivated to finish it right now. There's some good ideas; but I've read better educational materials. The author was a little wordy and there were elements that eventually had me skimming through. Like beginning each chapter with a letter to an old student she regrets not having helped more. (Those got old after one chapter.) And the "what it would look like" scenarios for using a particular strategy ...more
This was one of the many books my supervisor handed me in my first month @ 93, but it was hands down one of the most useful. Beers' explains how to implement the reading strategies into ELA instruction very clearly; she offers many practical, worthwhile ideas that I have actually employed in my classroom. Her little anecdotes about George, a former student, were somewhat cheesy, but it makes me wish that I had a student like George, someone to keep me committed to the profession. I thought I had ...more
May 14, 2013 Casey rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Any and all teachers
This book was fantastic, I only wish I had read it years ago. Written in a very straight forward style, Beers is very relatable. Her book is packed with strategies that could be implemented immediately in any classroom. I admit that at times her letters to "George" seemed a little contrived, but they added a personal element to the book and forced you to think about students in your own class. I would recommend this to anyone who teaches readers. This is one of the few textbooks that held my att ...more
absolutely useful as a reference book (or to read straight through) in order to learn about how kids learn to read, how to identify exactly which problems kids might be having when they struggle with reading, which literacy terms mean what, and how to teach people to read effectively, with their unique needs in mind.

clearly written and full of sample work, handouts to use when teaching literacy, diagnostic methods, etc. this is the best book i've found on the subject of understanding and helping
The positive: Practical, actual advice and ideas. A great sense of compassion for struggling and reluctant readers, and a myriad of inspiring and exciting possibilities to use and adapt in a classroom.

The negative: The conceit of the letters to a former student got a little annoying. Because I'm a secondary ed. major, I would have appreciated a touch more about high school juniors and seniors, but that's really just a personal preference, not a slam on the book.

The summary: Easily my favorite ed
Mar 29, 2008 Karen rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone teaching 6th-12th graders
Recommended to Karen by: Denene Holbrook
A brilliant book for anyone teaching students in grades 6 through 12 to read. If I could have only one resource for teaching reading in these grades, this would be the one. Kylene covers everything from comprehension and vocabulary to connecting kids to the right book. The appendices range from high frequency word lists to booklists. As an added bonus Kylene infuses the text with a running dialogue with one of her first struggling readers, George, and how now, twenty years later, she is ready to ...more
Excellent book for teachers of all content areas.
Great resource!
Shannon Clark
Can't say enough about this book. It's the only PD book that has ever made me cry. Let me explain.

Kylene begins and ends each chapter with a letter to "George" a former student of hers from her first year of teaching-he was a struggling reader! She felt like she failed him. How many "Georges" have we failed simply because we didn't know how to help them?

She offers TONS of practical ideas/strategies for struggling readers in the upper grades.

This is a MUST read!

Don't delay-read it today!
Amy Strickland
This is the best literacy guide for secondary teachers. It is readable-- in some places it flows like a novel-- and clear. Beers doesn't get caught up in teacher jargon, making it useful for new teachers and education students. The exercises and activities are broken down by what they teach (frontloading meaning, concurrent reading, vocabulary, etc) and give ideas for various levels of comprehension.

This book will stay in my collection forever and be a vital part of my teaching career.
Awesome book--wish I had read it last summer before starting with 5th grade. It is supposed to be for grades 6-12 but I really think it applies to younger grades as well. So many great ideas and strategies. Now I have to figure out how to apply it.
The best teaching book I have ever read. Useful. Inspiring. Emotional. Important. Even 20-some years later, it is still important. I will recommend this book to every reading teacher I meet.
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Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading Adolescent Literacy: Turning Promise Into Practice Notice and Note Literature Log: A Place to Note What You Notice Holt Elements of Literature, Third Course Holt Elements of Literature: First Course

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