Keep it R.E.A.L.! Relevant, Engaging, and Affirming Literacy for Adolescent English Learners by Mary Amanda (Mandy) Stewart

Nerdy Book Club

As a twenty-two-year-old, I completed my student teaching in an 8th grade Reading class for students new to the country. My cooperating teacher told me, “It’s just like teaching Pre-K to teenagers!”

Even my much younger self knew something was not quite right about that statement. Did these adolescents with nearly adult bodies and often very adult experiences, need to sit crisscross apple sauce on the floor to go over the alphabet? Or, was there perhaps another way to engage them in reading and other literacy activities?

I began my teaching career in that same middle school and I kept pondering who my students were and what they really needed. They were indeed in the dynamic process of English acquisition, not to mention beginning a new life in a new country, making new friends, adjusting to a different climate, and discovering the highly processed food of the school cafeteria…

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