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Education Professor Publishes Article in Literacy Journal

Public Relations
Posted: Monday Feb 17, 2014

Feb. 17, 2014

Dr. Kathleen Ann Ramos, Saint Vincent College assistant professor of education in the School of Social Sciences, Communication and Education, authored an article, Teaching Adolescent English Learners to Write Academic-Style Persuasive Argument Essays, that will be published in the May 2014 edition of the Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, a peer-refereed journal of the International Reading Association published by Wiley Publications.

“The wide adoption of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in the U.S. has increased expectations for all teachers to prepare all learners to read and write in academic ways,” Ramos commented. “More knowledge is needed about instructional approaches that may lead adolescent English learners (ELs) to meet this goal. Developing academic literacy practices represents an acute challenge for adolescent ELs. This article describes an eight-week instructional unit in a U.S. urban public high school that investigated the effectiveness of using the genre-based Reading to Learn approach to support 20 adolescent ELs in learning to write academic-style persuasive essays. Results indicated a statistically significant increase from pre-test to post-test in the participants’ effective use of the linguistic resources that function to create persuasion in an academic way. These findings suggest that the Reading to Learn approach may be one way to support adolescent ELs in developing academic literacy practices.”

“At the January 2012 Understanding Language Conference, national experts convened to develop guidelines for supporting ELs in meeting these rigorous academic standards,” she continued. “These guidelines include designing instruction that supports ELs in negotiating meaning from complex texts and in writing across disciplinary areas (http://www.ell.stanford.edu). This initiative also highlighted the need to increase teachers’ awareness of the critical role language plays in literacy and learning (Hakuta, Santos, & Fang, 2013). Supporting adolescent ELs in strengthening academic literacy practices represents a significant challenge for teachers and adolescent ELs alike.”

“The Reading to Learn approach (Rose & Martin, 2012) is a genre-based framework that can support culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) learners in developing increased control over the academic language resources needed to successfully read and write in school,” she concluded. “This comprehensive framework was developed across decades by Australian educational linguists who worked closely with classroom teachers to support all learners in developing academic reading and writing practices. The Reading to Learn approach has been found to support CLD learners in developing academic literacy practices (Acevedo, 2010; Culican, 2006). Grounded in theories of language (e.g., systemic functional linguistics) and learning (e.g., sociocultural theory), this approach centers on the notion of guided interaction in the context of shared experience in which teachers ‘make visible’ the language resources that function to create meanings in school-valued genres (e.g., literary response, scientific explanation, persuasive essay). This article describes the lessons that were designed and implemented using this approach to teach the adolescent EL participants to write academically valued persuasive essays and highlights shifts in participants’ writing pretest to posttest.”

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Photo: Dr. Kathleen Ann Ramos

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