This text is about engaging students from fourth through eighth grade in literacy experiences. Our focus is on students who are 10 to 14 years old, who are often referred to as early adolescents.Great Transitions(1996), the concluding report from the Carnegie Council on Adolescent Development, reaffirms for us that Adolescence is one of the most fascinating and complex transitions in the life span: a time of accelerated growth and change second only to infancy; a time of expanding horizons, self-discovery, and emerging independence; a time of metamorphosis from childhood to adulthood. (p. 7) What a challenge we face as teachers of adolescents! This book is intended to help expand your knowledge of this age group and to explore ways of engaging these students in meaningful literacy learning. To help you focus on your own learning, I present instructional approaches that others have used successfully with middle grade students. We will examine each approach in some depth, to more fully consider the possibilities it may hold for each of you and your students (or prospective students). We will eavesdrop on middle grade teachers as they engage students in whole-class, small-group, and individual reading and writing experiences. As we follow these teachers, you will experience some of their thinking and decision making. I believe these two areas,teacher thinkinganddecision making,are among the most difficult areas to learn. Throughout this course, you must work to confront and understand your own thinking and decision making, the knowledge base you draw on for teaching, and how you carry through on your decisions. The teachers in this text can be your teachers, the "more knowledgeable others" (Vygotsky, 1962) who will help you advance your understanding of teaching middle grade students. TEXT FEATURES To support and extend your thinking, this text includes the following features: In This Chapter.At the beginning of each chapter an overview of chapter highlights helps you anticipate the contents and prepare yourself for study. Before You Get Started.This alerts you to works of literature that receive significant attention in a chapter. Knowledge of these books will enhance your study. It is particularly important to have a copy of the literature for reference. Building a Theory Base... and Putting Theory into Practice.The content of most chapters is divided into two sections: one that provides appropriate background in educational theories related to the chapter topic and a second section that illustrates possible classroom applications. Sample scripts, lesson frameworks, and units.These elements are presented throughout as examples of theory applied to classroom practice. Emphasis on teacher thinking and decision making.In addition, we explore instructional approaches in depth, providing opportunities for you to develop your thinking and decision making. Your Turn... My Turn...This feature encourages you to participate in your reading and to be a decision maker for classroom practice. Opportunities occur throughout this text to stop and reflect on the reading, to use your background of experience, and to apply knowledge from your reading. Take a Moment to Reflect.At the end of each chapter we recap chapter highlights to let you check your understanding of the most important issues in the chapter. Appendices.These provide added information about using authentic literature, suggested literature for study, background information in phonics, and sample word lists for study. Teaching in today's classrooms challenges you to engage students in creative and critical ways, preparing young adolescents for a most uncertain world. This text provides ways for you to exaCombs, Martha is the author of 'Readers and Writers in the Middle Grades', published 2002 under ISBN 9780130483447 and ISBN 0130483443.