Tough Talk, Tough Texts by Cindy O'Donnell-Allen

By: Heinemann  09-12-2011

Tough Talk, Tough Texts is a catalyst for reminding all of us who work with young people about the danger of throwing away the lifeblood of our students’ interior worlds and our own dreams of changing the world for the better…. Tough Talk, Tough Texts insists that we offer students books that are not simply larger, bulkier Hallmark cards but that instead challenge them to consider difficult issues, pushing them to think deeply and grow.

—Jimmy Santiago Baca

Strategic reading, critical examination, and civil discourse aren’t just for college preparedness—they are life skills. In Tough Talk, Tough Texts Cindy O’Donnell-Allen shares small-group instruction whose goal is to give kids the ability not merely to succeed academically, but to change their world.

This isn’t impractical idealism. Cindy shows step-by-step how to leverage challenging texts on challenging issues to maximize engagement and increase students’ agency in reading and in life. Best of all, she shares all the know-how and nitty-gritty you’ll need:

  • scaffolds for whole-class and small-group discussions
  • methods for grouping students, setting norms, and using response tools strategies that sustain independent discussions and document them
  • multiple techniques for summative assessment
  • reproducible resources such as handouts, assignment sheets, and scoring guides.

Tough Talk, Tough Texts is about helping students grow as readers as they use texts to answer the big questions about themselves, their peers, and their world. “With careful preparation,” writes Cindy O’Donnell-Allen, “students can learn to pose and discuss such questions, to listen and respond with empathy, and to implement strategies that will allow them to become more critical and strategic readers, writers, and thinkers.”

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