Impact & Stories

Voices & Views: Middle School - High School

A Biology Department Where Evidence Mounts Up

In a large urban high school, why did 9 of 10 biology teachers sign on for Reading Apprenticeship?

A couple of years ago, one of the new teachers in my department attended a few Reading Apprenticeship meetings and faithfully implemented what she learned—Think Aloud, Talking to the Text, and LINK. That year, her students outscored the other biology teachers on the common final. (The previous year, this teacher was on par with the other biology teachers.)

When probed for what she attributed to the increase, she touted Reading Apprenticeship. The following year 9 of the 10 biology teachers signed up to get trained! The year after that, our scores on the statewide exam increased by 10 percent.

As the department chair, I wanted to be involved with my department members, so I attended trainings with them. I found that Reading Apprenticeship validated ideas about teaching that I had been dabbling in for over 20 years. Only, now, I had some real tools and purposeful intention behind those tools.

I teach AP biology and honors physiology, and although some might say that I teach highly skilled students, who are already pretty successful at learning their content, I would respond that their texts are extremely challenging and their testing stakes very high. While some of my students still just want to be told what they should know, many more are excited about the deep reasoning they do now and how it increases the mileage of their learning.

My students are feeling successful, and because they feel successful, they are more engaged. And because they are more engaged, guess what—they are so much more fun to teach.

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