Impact & Stories

Voices & Views: Middle School - High School

Getting Personal with Reading Histories

When Melissa Devlin tried out Reading Apprenticeship in her grade 9 reading class, one of her students showed her why it’s worth the time to have students explore their personal reading histories — to think about where they find themselves as readers and where they may want to go.

“One of the things we do early in the year is build a personal reading history. The kids I was teaching didn’t have lots of experiences of parents reading to them or going to the library or reading a favorite book. So they struggled with this history. Devon, who I knew had not turned in a lick of work in seventh and eighth grade, created a personal Reading History where he really started thinking what his literacy history had been like. He put himself in a story board, and in one frame he wrote, ‘In third grade we used to have handwriting tests where I would have to write a sentence in cursive which was really difficult for me.’ If you saw Devon, you wouldn’t expect him to be expressing emotion about what was hard for him. Then in another frame he’s sitting in a desk and says in his little thought bubble, ‘It’s good to learn how to read.’ He drew another kid who has ZZZZs in his thought bubble, passed out on the desk. That’s the kind of transformation that happened with those struggling kids.”

Melissa Devlin was a teacher and literacy coach at Wyomissing (PA) Area Junior/Senior High School. She now facilitates literacy professional development for the Berks County Intermediate Unit.

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