Since fall 2008, our campus has been “exposed” to a new way of thinking about reading. Through many in-service opportunities, faculty here at Renton Technical College have learned about the Reading Apprenticeship approach to reading. As a result, more than 1,500 of our students have experienced Reading Apprenticeship routines and metacognitive conversations in their classes.
As buzz was building about Reading Apprenticeship, we contemplated options for increasing the reach of the training we could provide to colleagues. The recent result was a collaboration with Reading Apprenticeship to develop a 30-hour online course for community college faculty. It was piloted this spring with 25 instructors on our campus, and is now an in-service option for busy faculty here and nationwide.
At Renton, this course has catalyzed transformations in a range of classroom practices and ways we approach texts with our students:
- Faculty are now more aware of their own reading processes and more committed to learning about the reading processes of their students.
- Faculty are thinking about new ways to create reading communities in their classrooms so that student reading and discussion about texts drive engaged learning, in contrast to teacher lecture and passive student note taking.
- Curriculum approaches are changing in many of the programs. For example, the new cohort of nursing students will encounter a faculty group collaborating across the program to use Reading Apprenticeship routines and approaches.
- Students are noting that when reading itself is on the table, with faculty and students discussing reading obstacles and confusions as problems to be solved, not only the reading but also the course content comes into sharper focus.
- Faculty are asking that our librarians use Reading Apprenticeship routines in their information literacy workshops with students.
- Administrators are commenting about the interest they hear from students and faculty about improving students’ reading.
- Faculty are preparing for the fall quarter by requesting more Reading Apprenticeship training and purchasing document readers for use in modeling “Think Alouds.”
- Faculty are “lining up” to enroll in the online course for the next academic year.
As the team leader for Reading Apprenticeship at our college, I am excited by the changes I am hearing about. There is a new and broad-based energy around reading, the sharing of reading routines, and an eagerness to try new ways of modeling for students what we as “expert” readers do. For three years, our team has been engaging our faculty, one step at a time, and now feel that we have overcome the sometimes formidable roadblocks of ingrained practice and resistance to change. So if your campus feels sluggish about Reading Apprenticeship, have patience. Over time, with leadership, support, and focused energy, your campus too can change.
Click here for more information about the
Reading Apprenticeship Online for Community College Instructors.
Blog Contributor, Michele Lesmeister
Michele Lesmeister teaches Adult Education classes at Renton Technical College in Renton, Washington. She has a BA in Linguistics and a Master’s degree in Teaching English. Since 1990, she has focused on teaching adults transferable language skills in writing and reading and sometimes math for health sciences. She has published two texts with Pearson Education: Math Basics for the Health Care Professional, 3rd edition, and Writing Basics for the Health Care Professional. Michele began her work with Reading Apprenticeship by attending the 2008 Leadership Institute in Reading Apprenticeship. She is leading a college-wide initiative of institutionalizing Reading Apprenticeship under the Achieving the Dream grant for her institution. You can learn more about the work in Reading Apprenticeship at Renton Technical College at www.RTC-Rats.org.