ACCESSing School: Teaching Struggling Readers to Achieve Academic and Personal Success

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Pearson Education Canada, 2005 - Education - 205 pages
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This book, though focused on one teacher in one school with one group of students, shows all teachers what can be accomplished. While the collective voice gives us community, it is the individual voice that gives us strength. Jim's voice gives us much strength, much strength indeed.
-Kylene Beers, author of When Kids Can't Read-What Teachers Can Do

How can we make the tools and habits of academic literacy available to every student? Jim Burke answered this question by creating ACCESS, a program for struggling students he began five years ago at Burlingame High School-a program where seventy percent of incoming ninth graders go on to college. In ACCESSing School, Burke examines academic success initiatives around the country, identifying their key components, then detailing how their practices apply to ACCESS so that you can adapt its principles to meet your school's unique needs.

ACCESSing School offers a reading-intensive alternative to ineffective remedial courses. It synthesizes the findings of recent studies with both the insight Jim has gleaned from teaching ACCESS classes and the "Four Cs of Academic Success" he identified in School Smarts. ACCESSing School offers a model for all schools, complete with:

  • specific, practical elements of Jim's ACCESS program
  • the actual documents he and his district use to select students for ACCESS
  • the research that supports its principles and practices
  • the ways in which ACCESS addresses specific challenges such as gender, reading problems, and chronic academic failure
  • inspiring stories of the program's many successes and an honest examination of its challenges.
How can you help every student learn to "do school?" By providing an opportunity for them to acquire the habits, motivation, and language they need in a curriculum that is structured and experiential, guided but flexible, personally meaningful but academically effective. How do you take the first step? By reading ACCESSing School, and discovering more about the ideas and practices that can help your students succeed both in school and after graduation.

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I have been a Doorways Mentor for the City of St Petersburg Florida Lakewood High School for more than three years.
This book was one of my inspirational sources for this great venture.
When I saw the recommendation to incorporate Toastmasters Youth Leadership I was sold for good.
Students respond to self directed learning as long as the academic goals are still tied to performance. I have been writing a companion book for the Youth Leadership for the 26 weekly classes of my mentoring and Jim Burke was the inspiration for that.
Seeing examples of involvement and how creatively teachers overcome their classrooms obstacles is exactly why this book inspired me.
Lou Polur


IntroductionThe Traits of Effective
ACCESSA Program Overview

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About the author (2005)

Jim Burke is the author of numerous bestselling Heinemann titles, including the English Teacher's Companion, Fourth Edition and What's the Big Idea? The question he's always tried to answer is "How can we teach our students better?" He seeks these answers daily through his work in his own classroom at Burlingame High School in California where he still teaches after twenty years. Facing the same constraints and challenges as every other teacher, Jim shares his creative solutions in bestselling professional titles with Heinemann such as Reading Reminders and Writing Reminders as well as through Heinemann Professional Development Services. As part of his commitment to helping teachers and learning how to use the latest technologies, he founded the English Companion Ning, described by Education Week as "the world's largest English department" and winner of several Edublog Awards for Best Social Network for Education. In addition to the EC Ning, Jim offers a steady stream of recommended resources through his website ( and Twitter (@englishcomp) where he is ranked in the top 100 educators to follow at the top within the online English teacher community. Jim serves on several national commissions related to adolescent literacy and standards, including the Advanced Placement English Literature and Language Course and Exam Review Commission with the College Board and the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC) where he serves on the Content Technical Working Group, which advises PARCC on the national assessments being developed for the Common Core State Standards. In addition, he is a senior author on the Holt McDougal Harcourt Literature series. Jim has received numerous awards, including the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award, the NCTE Conference on English Leadership Award, and the California Reading Association Hall of Fame Award. He served on the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Committee on Adolescence and Young Adulthood English Language Arts Standards. Through his work in the class and on such commissions, Jim Burke seeks not only to clarify but reimagine what English should be, honoring the past even as he works with others to create the future of the discipline he loves so much. Visit his website ( for more information.

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