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LINK Is the Hook

Muthulakshmi Bhavani Balavenkatesan is a third-year teacher of biology at a large comprehensive high school; her classes typically enroll forty students. Two years ago she was introduced to Reading Apprenticeship. Her students now routinely Talk to the Text, discuss with a partner what they are wondering and learning, and make group presentations summarizing what they have learned. LINK is the organizing structure for all of students’ work. In this interview, Bhavani describes how her classroom has changed:

“I’ve been doing Reading Apprenticeship since last year. The majority of the students take it very seriously. I show them my freshman students’ scores for the three years that I’ve been teaching here. The first year I had no Reading Apprenticeship strategies at all. Comparatively, the CST (California Standards Test) scores have gone up dramatically. I also have the lowest failure rate from all the bio teachers. I’ve shown students the evidence. I tell them constantly, ‘The only thing I’ve done differently is these strategies, and I want you to take them seriously.’”

Her students begin the year with partner reading, Talking to the Text, and collaborative discussion—to counter what Bhavani finds are limitations of traditional reading and seatwork. “I feel when students just write notes out of the book, they’re not retaining it. I showed them a videotape of my three-year-old daughter trying to read a book. She does a lot of Talking to the Text, asking clarifying questions. I told them, ‘This is the way we learn, talking to each other. But we kind of stray away from it as the years go by, so I want us to return to that because I know you’ll do a lot more learning by talking to each other.”

All the talk in Bhavani’s classroom begins with LINK. “I love the LINK,” she says, “the way it hooks them into what we’re studying.”

After surfacing students’ schema and questions, Bhavani has students work with partners to read, Talk to the Text, discuss, and complete a packet developed by the biology department.

Then, to represent what they have learned, students work in small groups creating collaborative posters that they present to the class. Groups are responsible for different portions of the reading.

“That’s how my lecture goes now,” she says. “Instead of me talking, it’s them talking. I might add a few examples here and there, but it’s more me being a moderator. I’m using LINK now for every unit because I really feel it goes so well.”

From Reading for Understanding, p 245

DMU Timestamp: December 19, 2018 18:14

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