Impact & Stories

Success Stories

“Okay, we’re going to read for two minutes.”

Nicole Dysart and Sindy Goodhart are co-teachers of eleventh graders at Reading High School who are most in need of help to pass the Pennsylvania-required literature test. “At our Reading Apprenticeship training,” Nicole says, “we saw how we could turn this community of nonreaders into readers, without them even realizing it.”

Their students use the same curriculum and read the same literature as the other eleventh graders. The difference is the amount of reading their students do, in class. “We read pretty much the entire time,” Sindy says. “We start with SSR. I’ve seen SSR before, where it’s just, ‘Read for 20 minutes.’ We didn’t do that.”

As Nicole explains, “We started small. I would say to the class, ‘We’re going to read for two minutes.’ Initially, they would say, ‘That’s so long!’ We’d read, and I’d call time. They’d be, ‘It’s done?’ They were astounded that was two minutes. As we progressed, they wanted more. ‘Well, can’t we read for five? Can’t we read for 10?’”

“We also gave them time to write in their metacognitive logs,” Sindy adds. “It wasn’t just, ‘The main character went to the mall.’ They wrote about where they got confused, or what word confused them, or how they figured something out. They were interacting with the text.”

“It actually increased our students’ vocabulary and reading stamina exponentially,” Nicole says.

“And since we teach literature skills such as theme or characterization, with the metacognitive logs, we could say, ‘Today when you’re reading your SSR book, you’re going to focus on characterization. Tell me how this character changed and why.‘

“Then we would shift into the piece of literature we had for the curriculum that day, and I’d say, ‘Just like in your metacognitive log, we’re going to focus on characterization.’ It was an easy transition from one thing they were really invested and interested in to something that — not so much. But they know about characterization, because they just did it in their metacognitive logs. That helped a lot to build their confidence in their reading and in their skills.”

When it came time for Nicole and Sindy’s students to take the literature exam, students themselves recognized how much Reading Apprenticeship helped them. As Sindy recalls, “They kept asking before the test, ‘Can we write on the books, can we talk to the text?’ I said, ‘Absolutely. Please do. Circle things that are confusing to you, go back to them. Identify words that you’re unsure of, then use the context.’ I said, ‘Mark those books up!’ When they came back from the test, they were so excited, ‘Oh my god, I used talking to the text, and I did this, and I did that.’ It was such a moment for me, ’Okay, I think we’re on the right track here.’”

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