Empowering African American Adolescent Males through Engaging Literacy Tasks

Empowering African American Adolescent Males through Engaging Literacy Tasks

Lisa Butler Green (DeKalb County School District, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch074
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Abstract

African American adolescent males continue to attain the lowest literacy achievement among racial/ethnic groups. It is imperative that schools attend to the instructional needs of African American adolescent males to close the achievement gap in literacy. Educators must strive to infuse the interests and experiences of African American adolescent males in literacy instruction. The chapter features research about African American adolescent males' perceptions of their engagement with literacy tasks. Despite perceived stereotypes, many African American adolescent males exemplify resilience as they navigate societal obstacles to achieve academic success. African American adolescent males are readers who possess great potential. Literacy gives them control of their lives. Educators play an integral role in mediating engagement with literacy tasks. The author discusses how to best support African American adolescent males with literacy instruction.
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Background

Literacy engagement has been defined in numerous ways (Alvermann, 2002; Au, 1997; Berliner & Biddle, 1995; Cambourne, 1995; Csikszentmihalyi, 1990a, 1990b; Furrer & Skinner, 2003; Gambrell, 1996; Guthrie, 1996, 2004; Guthrie & Davis, 2003; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000; Landis, 2002; Oldfather & Dahl, 1994; RAND Reading Study Group, 2002). Many researchers believe that literacy engagement cannot occur without social interaction, cognitive awareness, conceptual knowledge, and motivation (Alvermann, 2002; Baker & Wigfield, 1999; Gambrell, 1996; Guthrie, 1996, 2004; Guthrie & Davis, 2003; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000; RAND Reading Study Group, 2002). In fact, most of the descriptions of an engaged reader encompass social interaction, use of strategies, prior knowledge, and motivation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Perception: “A process which involves the recognition and interpretation of stimuli which register on our senses” ( Rookes & Willson, 2000 , p. 1).

Literacy: The ability to accomplish a wide range of reading, writing, speaking, listening, and viewing tasks associated with everyday life ( International Reading Association & National Council of Teachers of English, 1996 ).

Resilience: Achievement of positive outcomes despite high-risk status ( Masten, 2001 ; Masten, Best, & Garmezy, 1990 ).

Empower: To foster the realization of an individual’s potential to achieve in life.

Engagement: Reader possesses intrinsic motivation to read; uses strategies and conceptual knowledge to construct meaning; and socially interacts with others about texts (Alverrmann, 2002 AU24: The in-text citation "Alverrmann, 2002" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. ; Gambrell, 1996 ; Guthrie, 2004 ; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000 ; RAND Reading Study Group, 2002 ).

Task: Purpose ( RAND Reading Study Group, 2002 ).

Motivation: Reader has purpose for reading a text; content interest; and self-efficacy ( RAND Reading Study Group, 2002 ).

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