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First impressions of Kylene Beers

I've read 10 chapters of Kylene Beers' book. I first encountered her at the NCTE Conference last year, and I thought her presentation on vocabulary was very impressive. She even offered to answer questions via email, and when I began to organize my A Tale of Two Cities vocabulary approach, I sent her a note and she responded promptly. Anyway, I love the format of the book - the letters to George (who hasn't got a George in their career?) that open and close each chapter. I think the book is very practical, but it is more grounded in research than Inside Out. I like the FAQ section, and I am eager to try many of her activities. I think some of the activities don't seem quite appropriate for high school, but I am willing to try them. I am also concerned (here and elsewhere) with the emphasis on narrative or creative writing. I teach in the IB program and have to work on more formal writing. Inside Out seems to argue that the skills magically transfer. I am skeptical.


When I first encountered her, I was hooked. I thought she was describing me as a high school teacher who didn't have any idea of how to help a struggling reader -- I wasn't prepared to TEACH reading! I have found her strategies extremely effective at several grade levels.

The mention of Tale of Two Cities in your post got my attention. I also teach it, but with a little resistance.
I'd like to hear about the reaction you get.

It was interesting for me to reread your entry today after participating in your demo. Since you mentioned feeling the stress between creating writing, and more formal expecations, I had an eye out for that in your writing assignments. I saw your creative flair poking through (in a very good way). I thought your writing assignments (based on the anticipation guide themes) were rigorous, but your alternative ideas also allowed your student to have personality and divergent thinking. I'm impressed.

Thanks, Erica. We'll see if I actually use any of those alternative writing options this fall. Joan, TALE was a challenge - vocabulary, basic plot etc.. But the students who got past Part I and pushed through tended to enjoy it. In a year-end survey of the books we read, it finished behind ROMEO AND JULIET, A LESSON BEFORE DYING and one vote behind WHEN THE LEGENDS DIE. That put it ahead of THE PEARL, THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA, and THE ODYSSEY. It helped that Park Square did a production this year.