Inspiring Reading Success
Beating the Odds: Giving Kids a Chance to Win the Game of Life
S. Jay Samuels
In chapter 1 of this volume, “Beating the Odds: Giving Kids a Chance to Win the Game of Life,” S. Jay Samuels assumes an unusual premise. He assumes that some of the problems students face in their day-to-day living are so formidable that even the best reading methods are no match. In other words, before these children can take advantage of the best reading methods, educators must help them solve some basic problems in their personal lives. Thus, this chapter is not on reading methods. Instead, drawing from what we have learned about what works with stress-resilient children, and from the research literature on successful child prodigies, Samuels lays out a blueprint teachers can follow to help their students achieve in school. Interestingly, both literatures are convergent in that there is substantial overlap between what helps children overcome stressful living conditions and what helps child prodigies take advantage of their natural talents. Samuels summarizes and combines these findings and makes a claim that what's good for these children is good for all children. The second part of his chapter shows how an outstanding fifth-grade teacher applies the blueprint of what works with children living under stress to her students. Her students bring a wide range of problems to school with them—for example, some are refugee children who have never been in school and speak no English and some are children living in poverty. Other teachers can use this outstanding teacher's practices as a way to motivate and to help all students become highly productive scholars.
Samuels, S. (2008).
Beating the Odds: Giving Kids a Chance to Win the Game of Life.
In R. Fink, & S. Samuels (Eds.), Inspiring Reading Success (pp. 1-18). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.