The Literacy Project
Reading Apprenticeship Program Guide –
“Loving to Read”
About the Guide
How do you develop literacy skills in kids who are already competent readers? That was the dilemma we faced at the start of our program when we were first getting to know our kids and realized that most of them could already read and, for some of them, read well. The next logical step, then, is to instill in them a love of reading so that reading becomes something they enjoy doing. This way they are motivated to use their literacy skills in all aspects of their lives rather than it being something they have to do in order to pass their classes.
In order to achieve this goal we will use the Reader Apprenticeship model illustrated in the book Reading for Understanding that gets kids to think about reading in new and interesting ways. This guide is a summary of the main points outlined in Reading for Understanding.
All the strategies and ideas employed in this guide come straight from the book, with a few changes to make them more appropriate to our one-on-one tutoring program rather than a classroom setting. We do not claim ownership of proprietorship of anything written in the guide. This guide is not meant to be published or distributed in any form other than as an internal document for use by mentors of the Literacy Project.
This guide is meant to be a jumping off point. Something that will lead to discussion among the mentors on how to tackle the problem of motivating these kids to become the best readers they can be.
The guide is not in its final form. We encourage you to give us your suggestions on things that should be added, changed, omitted, expanded upon, etc.
The strategies outlined in the book can be very general. We hope that, as you work with your kids, if you come up with ideas or strategies that are more specific and more geared to our program’s setting that you do not hesitate to share them with us.
Finally, do not feel like you need to follow this guide in order. Feel free to jump around as you please. You know your kid better than anyone else so you would know best what areas your kids needs to work on.
Introduction to the Reading Apprenticeship Model
Reading is not a simple skill. It is not just a matter of decoding words. It is complex process where you use your prior knowledge and cognitive strategies to make sense of what you are reading. This knowledge and these strategies are developed over your lifetime.
Because of this, kids who are struggling with reading often have misconceptions of what it means to be a good reader. If they do not know about these strategies they may think that comprehensions is something akin to magic. You struggle through the words and in the end you either get it or you don’t. They may believe that good readers are born and not made.
Having support as one is learning to read helps to demystify the process of become a fluent reader. Having someone there to explain how it is that they work through the process of reading and make sense out of the text can give the student a sense that becoming a good reader is something that can be learned. The book compares this to an apprenticeship where a novice is guided by a “more competent other” until the apprentice is skilled enough to so the work on his/her own.
The strategies that the book teaches are broken up into four categories, each dealing with a different aspect or dimension of what is needed to become a fluent reader. These are:
- The Social Dimension – how does your social environment affect your identity as a reader?
- The Personal Dimension – how do you see yourself as a reader?
- The Cognitive Dimension – what strategies can you use to make sense of the text?
- The Knowledge Building Dimension – what prior knowledge do you bring to reading?
The goal is for the kids to develop an on going metacognitive conversation or a conversation with themselves where they examine their attitudes about reading and employ strategies to help them work through more and more difficult texts.
The Social Dimension
The Social Dimension deals with the importance of getting kids to open up and talk about their struggles, and using the social environment to get the support that they need to become better readers.
It starts with creating a safe environment where the kids are comfortable opening up. A kid who is struggling might feel apprehensive about revealing what it is he or she is having trouble with. That’s natural and something almost anyone can relate to. There also might be situations where students feel reluctant to show they are better readers than others in their social group. Neither situation is ideal. If kids do not talk about what they are having problems with, then they won’t get the help they need. If kids are not comfortable talking about the strategies they use that make them good readers, we lose out on an important resource. Refer to the following pages for strategies on how to create a safe environment that allows your kid to speak up about their struggles as well as their strengths:
Creating Safety (pg 4)
Sharing Book Talk (pg 5)
Sharing Reading Processes, Problems and Solutions (pg 6)
Noticing and Appropriating Other’s Ways of Reading (pg 7)
It’s also important to examine how reading is viewed in society at large and not just in the classroom or, in this case, the mentorship program setting. This can help change a social environment where it might be considered “uncool” to be a good reader:
Investigating the Relationship Between Literacy and Power (pg 8)
· Talk about what makes it safe or unsafe for your kid to ask questions or show confusion during your session and in their classroom.
· Agree on rules for discussion so that your kid can share his or her ideas and confusions without being made to feel stupid.
· Talk about what makes it safe or unsafe for students to engage in classroom learning.
· Agree on norms that allow your kid to engage in learning activities without being made to feel “uncool.”
Sharing Book Talk
· Share the books you and your kid have found exciting, fun, interesting, or important.
· Share the ways you and you kid choose books they will enjoy and be able to finish for recreational reading.
· Share your and your kid’s responses to the ideas, events, and language of texts.
Sharing Reading Processes, Problems, and Solutions
· Talk about what is confusing in texts.
· Share how you and your kid deal with comprehension problems as they come up in class texts.
· Participate in whole- or small-group problem-solving discussions to make sense of difficult texts.
Noticing and Appropriating Other’s Ways of Reading
· Notice the different kinds of background knowledge and experience different readers bring to texts and how that affects the way they interpret what they read.
· Notice the ways different readers think aloud and respond to texts as they work to make sense of them.
· Notice the different reading strategies different readers use to make sense of the text.
· Try out the different strategies and approaches other readers use to make sense of texts.
Investigating the Relationship Between Literacy and Power
· Investigate and talk about the people who read in our society, what they read, and how reading affects their lives.
· Investigate and talk about the people who do not read in our society and how not reading affects their lives.
· Read and talk about the historical disenfranchisement through lack of literacy of particular groups of people in this society.
· Talk about the relationship between literacy and power of various kinds, including economic, political, and cultural power.
The Personal Dimension is about how the kids see themselves as readers. It deals with their motivations toward reading, what they do or don’t like to read and what they want to get out of reading.
Unfortunately many already have a negative identity of themselves as readers especially if they struggle with it. They see themselves as poor readers or even non-readers. The goal here is to get the kids to see themselves as active, fluent readers:
Developing Reader Identity (pg 10)
Getting kids to think about their thought process (Metacognition) is an important step in getting them to change their identities and readers. When you get them to think about how and what they think about reading and how that might be the reason for their struggles and what they think and do what the outcome of those thoughts and actions are, and then get them to think about other ways in which they can think and act and how those ways might make it easier to get what they want The key here is to eventually get them to do this automatically:
Developing Metacognition (pg 11)
Building confidence as a reader begins with knowing that you can take on increasingly difficult texts:
Reader Fluency and Stamina (pg 12)
One way to build confidence is to show kids just how many different types of text they have already mastered. Kids use their reading skills in many other ways than just reading book. They read web pages, music lyrics, notes from friends and parents, instruction manuals and many other forms of writing. The following are strategies on how to get kids to realize their already well-developed uses of language and how they can expand on those:
Develop Reader Confidence and Range (pg 13)
Developing Reader Identity
· Write and talk with others about previous reading experiences.
· Write and talk with others about reading habits, likes, and dislikes.
· Write and talk with others about reasons for reading.
· Set and periodically check in on goals for personal reading development.
· Notice what is happening in your mind in a variety of everyday situations.
· Identify various thinking processes you engage in in a variety of everyday situations.
· Notice where your attention is when you read.
· Identify all the different processes going on while you read.
· Choose what thinking activities to engage in; direct and control your reading processes accordingly.
Developing Reader Fluency and Stamina
· Demonstrate that all readers, including you, are developing readers and that everyone has room to grow during a lifetime of reading.
· Identify the role effort plays in the growth of reading comprehension over time; notice that effort pays off in becoming a stronger reader.
· Notice and celebrate progress as a developing reader; increase patience with yourself as a learner.
· Persist in reading even when somewhat confused or bored with a text.
· Build stamina for reading longer texts and for longer periods of time.
Developing Reader Confidence and Range
· Bring the huge variety of different kinds of texts your kid reads in their daily lives to your session.
· Investigate how your kid approaches and make sense of these different kinds of texts.
· Connect the competencies your kid demonstrates in approaching these texts to the resources your kid will need to approach unfamiliar texts.
· Have students read, with your support, short pieces representing a wide range of unfamiliar types of texts.
· Draw attention to what your kid does understand when reading unfamiliar texts.
The Cognitive Dimension involves strategies for making sense of texts.
These are nuts-and-bolts tactics that kids use while they are tackling tough texts.
Getting an overview of a difficult text or breaking it up into smaller parts is often more useful than trying to plow through it one word, sentence or paragraph at a time:
Getting the Big Picture (pg 15)
Breaking it down (pg 16)
Sounding out the words without understanding what it is you are reading is, obviously, not very useful. These strategies help gain and maintain comprehension:
Monitoring Comprehension (pg 17)
Using Problem-Solving Strategies to Assist and Restore Comprehension
Understanding why you are reading a text and what you plan on getting out of it will help adjust how you read the text. If one is reading for pleasure it may not make the same sense to read as meticulously as when one is reading a text for a class:
Setting Reading Purposes and Adjusting Reading Processes (pg 19)
Getting the Big Picture
· Skim or scan texts.
· Read through ambiguity and confusion.
· Read ahead to see if confusion clears up.
· Review the big picture to check comprehension.
Breaking it down
· Chunk texts into small segments: for example, break complex sentences into component clauses.
· Identify or clarify pronoun references and other textual connections that aid comprehension.
· Employ close reading of texts (linking interpretations to specific textual evidence).
· Check to see whether comprehension is occurring.
· Test understanding by summarizing or paraphrasing the text or self-questioning.
· Decide whether to clarify any confusions at this time.
Using Problem-Solving Strategies to Assist and Restore Comprehension
· Question text, authors, and yourself about the text.
· Talk to the text through marginal annotations.
· Visualize what is described in the text.
· Make meaningful connections between the text and other knowledge, experiences, or texts.
· Reread sections of the text to clear up confusions.
· Summarize, retell, or paraphrase texts or parts of text.
· Represent concepts and content of texts in graphic form.
· Represent concepts and content of texts through metaphors and analogies.
· Organize and keep track of ideas in a text through graphic organizers, outlines, response logs, and notes.
Setting Reading Purposes and Adjusting Reading Processes
· Set goals or purposes for your reading whenever you approach a text.
· Read the same text for different purposes.
· Notice how reading purposes affect reading processes.
· Vary reading processes depending on purposes for reading.
The Knowledge-Building Dimension
Readers do not passively absorb the information they read but rather reflect on prior knowledge in order to make sense of new text and come to conclusions based on those reflections. Kids may have issues here simply because they do not have the depth or breadth of knowledge that we as adults have. The following are strategies to increase that knowledge.
Readers call upon “worlds of knowledge” and associations as they read. These “world of knowledge” or schemata, can be triggered by ideas, situations or even words that are come across as one reads. Schemata are not so clear-cut. The book gives the example of the word “ball” and how it, for some, can conjure up visions of a sporting event while for others it may conjure visions of an elegant social gathering. So it is not just important to have these stores of knowledge but understand which ones are the most appropriate:
Mobilizing and Building Knowledge Structures (Schemata) (pg 21)
Having prior knowledge of the subject being read is helpful to better make sense of the text. Sharing what you know as well as coaxing whatever it is that the kids know about the subject helps:
Developing Content or Topic Knowledge (pg 22)
Different types of texts are organized in different ways. Where kids may be familiar with how a narrative works from reading stories and having been read to, even from watching television and movies, they may not be as familiar with the textual conventions, organizational structures and purposes of other types of texts such as expository texts or poetry, to name just a couple examples. The following are strategies to help familiarize the kids with different types of writing:
Developing Knowledge and Use of Text Structures (pg 23)
Discipline specific books are each written with varying conventions. There are specific sets of words and language conventions that these particular authors use. Discipline-specific readers expect a certain type of writing and discipline-specific authors know what their readers expect:
Developing Discipline- and Discourse-Specific Knowledge (pg 24)
Mobilizing and Building Knowledge Structures (Schemata)
Mobilizing and Building Knowledge Structures (Schemata)
· Recognize the different schemata that can be triggered by a single text.
· Share the schemata individual readers bring to mind while reading a particular text.
· Identify the schemata appropriate for making sense of particular texts.
· Relinquish competing but inappropriate schemata for particular texts.
Developing Content or Topic Knowledge
· Brainstorm and share knowledge or information about the topic.
· Identify conflicting knowledge or information about the topic.
· Imagine yourself in situation similar to those that will be encountered in the text.
· Explore conceptual vocabulary that will be encountered in the text.
· Take positions on a topic before reading about it, perhaps by writing essays on the topic before reading.
· Evaluate the fit between your prior knowledge or conception of a topic and the ideas in the text.
Developing Knowledge and Use of Text Structures
· Identify the ways particular texts are structured.
· Notice patterns in structure across texts of similar kinds.
· Identify the particular kinds of language used in particular kinds of texts.
· Identify roots, prefixes, and suffixes of Latin and Greek derived words often encountered in expository texts.
· Create word families associated with particular ideas or subject areas.
· Use text organization and structure to assist in comprehension of particular texts.
· Preview a text to build a schema for it; notice structural markers such as headings, subheadings, and illustration.
· Notice that particular words or phrases signal that the text is heading in a particular direction.
· Use signal words and phrases to aid comprehension and to predict the direction particular texts will take.
Developing Discipline- and Discourse-Specific Knowledge
· Identify the possible purposes that the authors of particular texts may have had in creating these texts.
· Identify the possible audiences particular texts seem to be addressing.
· Identify the functions particular texts serve in particular circumstances.
· Explore the large questions, purposes, and habits of mind that characterize specific academic disciplines.
· Inquire into the ways texts function in particular disciples.
· Identify the particular ways of using language associated with particular academic disciplines.