I am always trying to hit a balance in my classes between tried-and-true activities and teaching methods and new techniques and ideas. I find that I rarely end up adopting any methodology in its entirety (at least at first), but I like experimenting with things that I can integrate easily into my class routines as a way to try out new ideas before changing the bigger, more earth-shattering changes. I was already trying to integrate more textual evidence and knowledge-building into my classes (as per the CCR standards), so I have focused on elements of the RA program that mesh with that goal.
So far, I have tried doing some brief think-alouds (I think I need to do more of these...they definitely improve with practice!), pair work focused on text features and comprehension strategies, and having students or pairs generate true/false statements about a reading (I want to try having them write regular questions, too, but this seemed like a good intermediary step...). I have also tried to focus more class time on comprehension strategies students can use rather than just going straight to evaluating understanding. I know that many of the students are actually understanding more because they ask more perceptive questions, and they are often able to explain things to their peers. They have definitely not all come around to the idea of active reading, though! (Student: "Argh! You keep making us think!")
I am curious to know what parts of the RA program the rest of you have experimented with and how it has gone for you. Are you taking bits and pieces, or are you planning to do a full adoption of the program? Is there anything that you have had success with?
Rachel and all, First off, Rachel, what a great testimony ... you are making your students think! Bravo!
Experimenting, the way you've described, is what I've been doing, too. I have tried think alouds, using prompts from the metacognitive bookmark and talking to the text. As of right now, these are the elements of RA that I want to continue working with. What I consider to be just as important as these strategies is what I am NOT doing, and that is making sure students understand by explaining everything to them.
What has impressed me most has been observing student interactions and how they are using language in effective ways to support each other to understand the text at a much deeper level. That's what's keeping me going!
Keep up the experimenting, Rachel! Let's hear from others who have also been experimenting with RA.
Moderator, Assessment CoP