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Making Time for Inquiry

I recently finished Leading for Literacy, WestEd's newest book about Reading Apprenticeship. This book builds on the work in Reading for Understanding, a text that I would argue should be in every teacher's professional library, no matter the content area. If you want to think critically about disciplinary-specific ways of reading and thinking, it's really the book for you.

Leading builds on all the great work that RA teachers are doing and shines much light on continuing and supporting RA implementation for the long haul. With vignettes from across North America, readers get snapshots of others' classrooms, leveraging other teachers' voices in our constant quest to become better reading teachers.

It wasn't until my participation in the Eastern Michigan Writing Project's Summer Institute that I really learned about teacher research or inquiry. In high school, I always thought that teachers just taught. I had this idea that everything that my teachers did remained the same year after year. That was before I ever really thought about the "PD days" that I was thrilled to have off as a student.

Leading is a book that advocates for teacher inquiry again and again. When we investigate our own practices, our own ways of thinking and reading within our content areas, we learn more about the work that we want students to be able to do. 

Part of that inquiry involves digging deeper into the texts we share with our students, asking essential questions like:

What do we know? How do we know it? What in the text are we using to build our understanding? What do we know about texts like this? How are they constructed?  How do they work? What are they for? (57)

Ultimately, whether it's the Reading Apprenticeship framework or just your support of reading across the disciplines, this idea is fundamental: "[H]ow readers make sense of text is as important as what sense they make of it" (180). And we must dedicate time to uncovering and inquiring into those practices. 

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