Harvard Educational Review
  1. Spring 2008 Issue »

    Toward a More Anatomically Complete Model of Literacy Instruction

    A Focus on African American Male Adolescents and Texts

    Alfred W. Tatum
    In this article, Alfred Tatum argues that the current framing of the adolescent literacy crisis fails to take into account the in-school and out-of-school challenges confronting many African American male adolescents today, particularly those growing up in high-poverty communities. Using the metaphor of literacy instruction as a human body, he argues that in the absence of sound theory about the importance of texts for African American male adolescents, even the best instructional methods will fall flat, like a body without a head. He offers a more anatomically complete model in which instructional methods are governed by theories about how literacy can help young men of color respond to their immediate contexts, and in which professional development gives legs to these methods by preparing teachers to engage all students. Finally, in a case study of one Chicago youth, Tatum illustrates both the power that relevant texts can hold for young men of color and the missed opportunities that result when students do not encounter such texts in their schools.

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    Alfred W. Tatum is an associate professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where he serves as director of the reading clinic. His research focuses on providing effective literacy instruction to African American adolescent males, and he consults with schools across the nation on this topic. Tatum is author of the book Teaching Reading to Black Adolescent Males: Closing the Achievement Gap (2005). Other recent publications include “Engaging African American Males in Reading” in Educational Leadership (2006), “Creating Sentence Walls to Help English Language Learners Develop Content Literacy” in The Reading Teacher (2006), and “Addressing the Literacy Needs of Adolescent Students: Listening to their Voices” in The New England Reading Association Journal (2006).
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    Spring 2008 Issue


    Why Adolescent Literacy Matters Now
    Jacy Ippolito, Jennifer L. Steele, and Jennifer F. Samson
    Adolescent Literacy
    Putting the Crisis in Context
    Vicki A. Jacobs
    Teaching Disciplinary Literacy to Adolescents
    Rethinking Content-Area Literacy
    Timothy Shanahan and Cynthia Shanahan
    Redefining Content-Area Literacy Teacher Education
    Finding My Voice through Collaboration
    Roni Jo Draper
    Cognitive Strategy Instruction for Adolescents
    What We Know about the Promise, What We Don’t Know about the Potential
    Mark W. Conley
    The Complex World of Adolescent Literacy
    Myths, Motivations, and Mysteries
    Elizabeth Birr Moje, Melanie Overby, Nicole Tysvaer, and Karen Morris
    Toward a More Anatomically Complete Model of Literacy Instruction
    A Focus on African American Male Adolescents and Texts
    Alfred W. Tatum
    Implementing a Structured Reading Program in an Afterschool Setting
    Problems and Potential Solutions
    Ardice Hartry, Robert Fitzgerald, and Kristie Porter
    State Literacy Plans
    Incorporating Adolescent Literacy
    Catherine Snow, Twakia Martin, and Ilene Berman
    Beyond Writing Next
    A Discussion of Writing Research and Instructional Uncertainty
    David Coker and William E. Lewis