by Janet Allen
Reviewed by Gail V. Ritchie, NBCT
School-based instructional leader (VA)
Teacher Leaders Network
It has taken me an embarrassingly long time to write this brief review of a very short book (46 pages). That’s because I’ve been so busy using More Tools for Teaching Content Literacy and sharing it with my colleagues that it’s been difficult to make the time to sit down, reflect upon why I love it, and put pencil to paper (or in the modern age, fingers to keyboard).
Janet Allen’s short but powerful resource provides a quick and simple way to access “instructional tools for assisting students as they discover, think about, and apply content information” (from the Introduction). This sequel to Tools for Teaching Content Literacy (2004) offers 25 new items for the toolbox of literacy and content-area teachers in grades 4-12.
The book is spiral-bound with tabs, so the user can simply flip to the tool s/he wants to use. Among these are: Content Pass, Reaction Guide, Knowledge Chart, Point-of-View Guide, PQ4R, Writing Frames, and Expert Groups. (You can see the complete table of contents here.)
Each tool’s one-page description follows the same format: What it is, why use it, and how to use it. Each page concludes with a section listing applicable research, references, and/or suggestions for further reading.
An appendix provides black-line masters of the graphic organizers described in the earlier sections of the book, including the Three-Level Study Guide, Using the 5Ws and H to Find Information, Explore, and Wordstorming.
When I showed this book to my assistant principal, she borrowed it and kept it for several months. Each week, she featured one of the tools in our teacher newsletter, and my colleagues immediately began to use these tools with their students. Through intentional application of Allen’s tools, we are helping our students “discover real reasons to read, inquire, write, and think” (from the Introduction) in meaningful and memorable ways.
So my sincere apologies for dragging my reviewer’s heels — and thank you very much, Janet Allen!
Gail Ritchie is an instructional leader and coach in a Fairfax, Virginia elementary school.