EdCC Reading Apprenticeship literacy program takes readers beyond the text

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Instructor Melody Schneider (Photo courtesy Edmonds Community College)

For more than five years, an Edmonds Community College instructor has led a series of faculty learning communities tasked with rethinking how students approach reading and improving literacy across disciplines using the Reading Apprenticeship program.

“Reading Apprenticeship has been one of the most impactful parts of my practice in recent years,” said Pre-College instructor and learning community facilitator Melody Schneider. “Students read as they never have before.”

With over 30 years of experience as an educator, Schneider’s teaching roots lie in adult literacy instruction.

“This program turned out to be a revamping of everything I learned about how to teach reading and writing back in the 1980s,” she said.

Schneider’s work with Edmonds CC faculty members is featured in the book, “Leading for Literacy: A Reading Apprenticeship Approach,” which provides tools and a program guide for teachers, leaders, and administrators to create their own Reading Apprenticeship community.

“This book is about how to scale up the Reading Apprenticeship program, which looks at the different dimensions of the reading process – personal interaction and conversations with the text and others, skill building, and engagement with the text at different cognitive levels,” Schneider said. “It helps to build the brain of a good reader.”

She offered the following Reading Apprenticeship tips that anyone, not only students, could benefit from.

Top 3 strategies for improving literacy:
Talk to the text – If possible, write directly on the text. Write down your responses, ideas, reactions, questions, and connections to the text. This does not mean highlighting, traditional annotation, or creating an outline.

“It’s more like surfacing the dialogue that’s going on in your head while you read,” Schneider said. “When we read, our brains are reacting to what we’re reading even if we don’t know it.”

Keep an evidence log – After reading your assignment, choose lines from the text that concern you or made you pause. Then, write down your questions, issues, and concerns. This will help you to connect your thoughts to the text and engage with it from your own point of view.

“Keeping an evidence log helps to keep the material fresh in your mind and can be used for recall during a class discussion,” Schneider said.

Think out loud – As you read the text, respond to it out loud and give a voice to your inner dialogue. This broadens your engagement with the text and spurs a deeper level of thinking.

“Instead of burying your inner dialogue, it comes to life,” Schneider said, “which gets you into the text and helps you to go farther with the harder stuff.”

Schneider said about 99 percent of the instructors in Edmonds CC’s Pre-College/Developmental Education department use the Reading Apprenticeship program.

“All of our students get the same experience and become better readers,” she said. “They all understand how to approach reading texts, get reinforcement, and are equipped with the skills to do this on their own.

“They have a really good, solid foundation.”

As of spring 2016, 45 Edmonds CC part-time and full-time faculty have participated in A Reading Apprenticeship learning community and completed the Reading Apprenticeship training.

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