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Reading Apprenticeship and RATs: RA & RATs at RTC

This guide is to support RTC's RATs (Reading Apprenticeship Teachers and supporters) in improving student reading comprehension in content-areas with the use of WestEd's Reading Apprenticeship framework. is now being redirected to this site.

RA and RATs at RTC 

3 rats reading

Renton Technical College (RTC) first began using WestEd's Reading Apprenticeship (RA) in July 2008.  The RA support group at RTC is affectionately known as RATs (Reading Apprenticeship Teachers and supporters).

The planning group for RATs is known as the RAT Pack and includes Debbie Crumb, Jenna Pollock and Team Leader and Spokesperson Michele Lesmeister. Click on the name link to contact the RAT Pack members.

RATs website contains RA templates to use in your classroom, lists of RA-related library materials, links to websites and links to password protected documents from WestEd.

A short, self-paced online tutorial about Reading Apprenticeship prepared by the Renton Technical College may be found at this link.

How to Get Started Using RA in Your Classroom

Start the quarter off right by focusing on the personal and social dimensions in your classroom. 


Use a Personal Reading History (PRH) to get to know a little about each student enrolled in your classroom. These templates are available at the Libguide and our website.  The value of asking your students about their reading histories sets the stage for a shared discussion about reading strengths, weaknesses, and reading needs. You set the stage for placing reading in the spotlight and when you do this, the students realize that you value their struggles, ideas, and processes of reading.


Next, begin a Readers Strategy List or Lists. This allows students to tell you what they do to approach text. Each type of text may need its own list.


Model your reading. Using a document camera or overhead, show the students “how” you read text in your field. Focus on the signposts and the specialized use of language and structures that help you decode, decipher, and make meaning.


Allow time for reflection and discussion about student misreadings or misconceptions about texts. This should be done regularly and in an open atmosphere that fosters metacognitive conversations. Use inquiry questions to help students own their learning and engage with their texts. Some phrases that promote metacognitive conversations:  Where in the text does that come to light? What made you arrive at this conclusion? Tell me more about the point …. How does that affect your thinking? Does this idea connect with previous texts we have read? In what ways is this meaningful to you?

Learning More and Sharing Info about RA

The goal of the Reading Apprenticeship framework is to provide a venue for shared access to text and to offer our classrooms insight into how you, the expert, in reading approach and process the reading tasks over the wide variety of texts that are specific to your discipline.  


RTC has made a commitment to help all full and part time faculty who would like to learn about Reading Apprenticeship an opportunity to do so. To meet your varied needs we offer the following services:


Professional Development Opportunities 

  • RA 201: Online course for community college faculty available through WestEd. Cost is $450.00 and may be reimbursable for RTC faculty and staff.  This course is offered each quarter. 
  • RA Campus Coach: Online course offered through WestEd. This course will be available January 2013 and it will provide the tools to cross train on campus to those faculty who have completed RA 201.


Mentoring and Face-to-Face Assistance 

  • Faculty Learning Community: Beginning in November 2012, we will be meeting on the 3rd Friday of each month for an hour around lunch to mentor and share RA work. The new edition of the book Reading for Understanding (RTC Library call number 428.40712 SCHOENB 2012) will be used as the foundational text.
  • Face-to-Face Support: Michele Lesmeister has some time on Friday afternoons to assist you in developing your RA routines.

  • Document Cameras for Loan: The RAT Pack has four document cameras available for your check out quarter by quarter. There is a loan agreement we ask you sign as well as submit one sample assignment that showcases your use of a RA routine in your classroom.  Email Michele or Debbie to request an agreement form.  Document cameras are perfect for modeling your Think-Alouds, Talking to the Text annotations, and Reading Evidence Log development.
  • CBE and SBE Inclusion of Reading Apprenticeship: Michele will work with faculty as they revise their CBE/SBEs to include RA routines.  She can offer suggestions and wording samples for incorporating RA into your documents.
  • Chat it Up with RA Peers: Debbie Crumb, Michele Lesmeister, and Jenna Pollock are trained as Leaders in Reading Apprenticeship and are always willing to provide information and access to materials and resources for your use.


Online Documents and Support 

  • Email Michele Lesmeister for quick questions, sharing ideas, or examples of materials to use in your classroom. 
  • RTC faculty and staff have access to copyrighted WestEd documents that are stored on the college's T-Drive.  Go to the SHARED folder, then the RATs folder, then the RTC Use ONLY - Copyrighted WestEd Files folder.  These files are ONLY to be used by RTC faculty and staff and are not to be shared outside of RTC without permission from WestEd.

Reading Apprenticeship at RTC - Documents and Websites

READ Posters










Above are a few samples of the 50+ READ posters featuring RTC students and staff that were created in 2010 and 2011. The jpg files of all the posters can be accessed by RTC faculty and staff via the college's T-Drive.  Go to the SHARED folder, then the RATs folder, and then the READ Posters jpg Files folder.

Videos about How RTC Promoted RA on Campus

Here are five videos with RTC instructor Michele Lesmeister and librarian Debbie Crumb talking about how RTC promoted Reading Apprenticeship on their campus.