Crossing Over: Teaching Meaning-Centered Secondary English Language Arts

By Harold M. Foster | Go to book overview
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chapter THREE
Teaching the Reading Workshop

Introduction

My Front Porch

I know where I learned to love reading. It was on the front porch of my childhood home. This porch, which protected my family from the rain while allowing for a refreshing breeze, was the center of many summertime pleasures. My parents would sip iced tea and listen to the ball game on the radio, or we would just sit there in conversation with each other and with passing neighbors. Sometimes, we would entertain friends on the porch, laughing and gossiping.

But the major use of the porch, for my entire family, was for reading. I loved to lie on the glider with its maroon vinyl-covered pillows. I would stretch out, my head on a pillow, and with very little effort I would rock back and forth, back and forth. I would read on this glider, particularly on rainy days when I couldn't play baseball or ride my bike. It was on this glider that I read those long-forgotten, mustard-stained library books. It was on this glider that I learned to read. The house and the porch are still there on Wellesley Avenue on the East End of Pittsburgh, occupied by a new family. The glider is long gone. But the reader formed on the porch grew up to write this book.


The School, the Students

I have passed the sign to Dobbins Corner High School many times on the way to the rolling, wooded countryside, but I never really believed there was a school building hidden in the thicket of foliage. The day I finally turned left onto the two-lane blacktop, however, I discovered after less than a mile, on a hilltop clearing, one of the most common sights of American high schools—the football field and its wooden bleachers. The school itself is of typically 1950s design—one story, red brick, flat roof, many large windows. I always love rural schools because you can look out of the window and see meadows, fields, and woods. Teachers tell of cows that amble down to the school and peer inside.

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