Impact & Stories

Voices & Views: Community College

Boring or Engaging? Bring Your Brain!

I was surprised by how grateful these transfer-level university students were to have me teach reading strategies.

A key feature of the online Faculty 101 Course for community college instructors is its structure for trying out Reading Apprenticeship routines with students and reporting back. Sometimes instructors run into problems and classmates can help. And sometimes they run into a revelation. Vicki Quirarte tried out the Read Aloud routine in her transfer-level composition course.

For homework I assigned an essay entitled “‘Tomorrow Will Not Be Like Today’: Literacy and Identity in a World of Multiliteracies” by Bronwyn T. Williams. Later, students will write an exploratory paper on some aspects of media in modern society, and this is one of the required texts to incorporate into their papers.

Students shared their difficulties with the article that ranged from it being too long to not being able to relate to the subject matter—with an implied boring as a complaint. After this initial discussion, I then presented the following lesson, using the essay:

  • Modeled Think-Aloud—and these bright students quickly saw how being engaged gave some relevance and even brought up their interest level.
  • Then, I asked students to try it with a partner. They were self-conscious but they indulged me. After trying the Think-Aloud themselves, they expressed that instead of being talked at by the text, they felt they were a participant with the text.

I was surprised by how grateful these transfer-level university students were to have me teach reading strategies. It was one thing to watch me model the technique, but when they practiced themselves, it was an aha moment for many of them. In fact, they asked for more!

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