Reading Apprenticeship in Math: Metacognition saves time

Carrie Starbird, Pasadena City College (Math)

I was introduced to Reading Apprenticeship through LACCD’s Faculty Teaching and Learning Academy (FTLA) and 3CSN’s Basic Skills Initiative Leadership Institute (BSILI).  I have come to believe in the power of RA, and have begun to spread the word to colleagues across campus that RA can be a way to improve student success in any discipline.

In the spring 2012 semester, I did a little RA with my students and used the “Curriculum Embedded Reading Assessment (CERA)” to determine their level of metacognition.  I did the CERA near the beginning of the semester, and again, with the same piece, near the end of the semester.  I was happy to 

note that many of my students made huge leaps in their metacognitive ability, with just a minor intervention of Reading Apprenticeship.

Since my spring semester results were so good, I decided to use RA again for my summer class.  I did a think aloud on one of our first days of classes, and used it to introduce a topic that, in the past, students have struggled with.  I typically discuss the topic on one day, they attempt to do homework on the topic, and then when we return to class the next time, I spend a great deal of time going over what we previously discussed.  This time, I used the think aloud activity to get them to actually think about the words that were floating across their retinas.  This time, when I brought them together to discuss the topic for the very first time, they all had a fairly good understanding of the concepts.  I discussed the finer points, and gave them plenty of examples.  And, when we returned the following class session, I didn’t have to re-explain it all over again!  They got it, and it was clear from their performance on the homework, quizzes, and exams, that they really did understand the material!

I was so thrilled with the results of this activity!  I once believed that I didn’t have time to dedicate to anything other than the material for my course, but RA has transformed my thinking.  I now know that by giving my students the tools they need to teach themselves and to be critical thinkers that I will actually save time, and be able to have more meaningful conversations in my classes.

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