Overview of This Textbook

Steps to Success: Crossing the Bridge Between Literacy Research and Practice was written for preservice and practicing teachers who want to better meet the needs of their students. The book was written by authors with expertise spanning major topics in literacy. A fundamental goal in the creation of this textbook was to present information on literacy research and practice in interesting ways. Included in the book are many relevant examples from the field to facilitate a problem-solving approach to becoming an effective teacher. An important aim of each chapter is to promote the idea that literacy teaching is a dynamic and complex synthesis of research, theory, and practice, as opposed to silos of difficult-to-apply information. An important end result of instructional decisions educators make, and practices they use, is that decisions should bring about benefits to students. This means that individuals preparing to be effective teachers must not only understand the complexity of literacy but also how to make informed decisions in spite of this complexity. This textbook does not contain all of the answers you will need to make these decisions about teaching literacy, but when used in combination with all of the other experiences you will have in becoming an educator, it will add to what you know and will be able to do to help students develop their literacy skills.

This book spans many topics related to literacy teaching and learning. Following the introductory chapter you are now reading, Chapter 2 provides an overview of literacy research, followed by Chapter 3 and Chapter 4, which relate to the development of word reading skills and reading comprehension, based on an important theoretical framework known as the “Simple View of Reading” (Gough & Tunmer, 1986). Chapter 5 provides background on literacy assessment, followed by Chapter 6, which addresses approaches to writing instruction for elementary school children. Chapter 7 provides background on how the digital age can creatively enhance the teaching of children’s literature. Chapter 8 and Chapter 9 address literacy teaching and learning in relation to two important and often underserved student groups, including English language learners and students with intellectual disabilities. Chapter 10, Chapter 11, and Chapter 12 focus on adolescent literacy, including 21st century literacy, teaching adolescent writers, and the use of discipline specific literacy strategies in culturally responsive ways. Chapter 13 provides an overview of world language and literacy development, and Chapter 14 instructs readers how to analyze their use of language to explore both literacy and identity.

Similar to this introductory chapter, the other chapters begin with an abstract describing what the chapter is about, followed by a brief but important set of learning objectives. Next is an introduction to the main topic(s) covered, followed by the body of the chapter and a set of questions, resources, websites and/or activities readers can explore to problem-solve case studies and plan their future teaching. At the end of each chapter is a reference section with all of the sources authors used to write their chapters. Although readers of textbooks do not always take the time to look through the references of a body of work, readers are encouraged to explore these documents to further fact-check the knowledge and practices they are being asked to integrate into their teaching, as well as to deepen their knowledge of current issues within the field of literacy research and practice.