Academic Literacy in the English Classroom: Helping Underprepared and Working Class Students Succeed in College

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Carolyn R. Boiarsky
Boynton/Cook Publishers, 2003 - Education - 148 pages
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What do high school English teachers need to teach to get their students ready for college? And how do college instructors help underprepared students succeed once they're there?

These are two pertinent questions for which Carolyn Boiarsky and the contributors to this volume have some answers. Boiarsky put together this book to pre-empt the problems teachers face in class, particularly with first-generation college students and others from working class and immigrant families. First, she discusses the content and socialization issues involved in "academic literacy" and exactly what that phrase means. Then, she and other educators describe activities and strategies that teachers can use to help students acquire the skills they need to read and write at the college level.

These strategies involve:

  • information transfer and learning to learn
  • the craft and the art of writing academic prose - from developing a "felt sense" of writing to achieving "flow"
  • promoting active readership - encouraging exploration of texts through note taking, notecard making, and mapping
  • engaging with literature - reading as transaction/the process of constructing meaning
  • learning the language and rhetorical conventions of the academy, with particular attention to vernacular dialect speakers and English language learners.
What the academy demands is the ability to read often technical jargon-laden textbooks, to write research papers using appropriate field-specific language and conventions, and to discuss topics in the form appropriate to that field. The strategies offered in this book will help teachers prepare students to accomplish these tasks, whether American-born native speakers, ESL students, or children of the working, middle, or professional class.

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Learning to Learn
DomainSpecific Heuristics for Composition
The Work of Composition

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Common terms and phrases

About the author (2003)

CAROLYN BOIARSKY has been associated with the National Writing Project since 1978, most recently as the director of the Purdue University Calumet/Northwest Indiana Writing Project. An Associate Professor in the Department of English at Purdue University Calumet, she teaches in the professional writing program. Her previous publications include numerous articles in professional journals about teaching English. She has also written magazine feature articles on a variety of topics as a freelance writer.

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