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Secondary Literacy

Several MCES staff members and consultants were trained in West Ed's Strategic Literacy Initiative, Reading Apprenticeship.   Knowing that the major emphasis from No Child Left Behind was on high school, the Coalition had already invested a great deal of time and resources in developing its high school component.   Coupled with our already excellent middle school reading program, Real Reading in the Middle (RRIM), that made the move to high school literacy the next logical step.


The major thrust of Reading Apprenticeship (RA) is to create communities of inquiry among teachers and students across all content areas.   Each discipline has its own specific reading processes.   When teachers become aware of their own mental processes used to make sense of text and can converse out loud, they can help their students do the same.   Teachers then see themselves as valuable resources in the teaching of reading and overtime students begin to see themselves as independent problem solvers with text.   This process has improved student attitude and comprehension for all readers, but has shown particular gains for those reading below grade level.


RA involves teaching at four dimensions:   social, personal, cognitive, and knowledge building:  

  • Social:   In this dimension students learn how to interact with other students in interpreting content, purpose, and perspective.   Students also gain a sense of safety in this dimension, knowing that it's all right to be confused and not understand.   They recognize that this is common among all readers and is a starting place for the questioning that unlocks the meaning in the text.
  • Personal:   In the personal dimension students are urged to see their own connection with the text.   They evaluate their own reading processes and think about how they relate text to themselves.
  • Cognitive:   The cognitive dimension helps students to realize that they have a whole litany of comprehension and problem solving strategies at their disposal.   They also develop skills at determining what skill is needed when.
  • Knowledge Building:   The knowledge-building dimension pushes students to acknowledge what they bring to the text in their understanding of text structure, content, the structure and meaning of words, and how ideas are expressed and organized in different disciplines.


There are no secrets in an RA classroom.   Each dimension is discussed fully by teachers and students in "metacognitive conversations."   Teachers begin by making their own thinking "visible" as they read.   Gradually they turn this over to the students, so that soon students independently are verbalizing their own thinking as a natural process.


If you are interested in learning more about this model for high school literacy or would like to have your school receive training, please contact MCES.

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