The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

The student news site of Los Altos High School in Los Altos, California

The Talon

English Teachers Participate in Nationwide READi Project

English teacher April Oliver and Department Coordinator Keren Robertson are taking part in a U.S. Department of Education funded research project called Reading, Evidence and Argumentation in Disciplinary Instruction (READi).

The research project, initiated as a result of an Obama Administration grant and a collaborative effort between WestEd and the University of Chicago, explores how evidence-based argumentation can improve students’ textual understanding.

“Our definition of reading for understanding focuses on evidence-based argumentation from multiple text sources as a means for building deep levels of comprehension,” READi researcher Cindy Litman said.

Story continues below advertisement

By observing three different levels of English classes—Robertson’s AP English Language and Composition class, Oliver’s AP Literature and Composition and Robertson’s AVID class —at school, READi is studying whether this form of argumentation can help students of all textual levels.

“They’re looking at how kids who are at different levels in term of their studying in literatures can approach the same text and have success with it,” Oliver said.

The READi project distinguishes persuasive writing from evidence-based argumentation. For students to really understand the text, READi believes they should find the evidence as opposed to using strong rhetoric.

“A good example is the presidential debates,” READi researcher Stacy Marple said. “At times you see candidates really bring out data, they make a statement and they give strong evidence to support it and other times they’re just like ‘But this isn’t good for America’ and they have some rhetoric, which is persuasion.”

Both Robertson and Oliver became acquainted with the READi research program as a result of the school’s reading apprenticeship training. Robertson and Oliver were put through leadership training before they and 30 to 40 other teachers across subject areas and schools in the Bay Area were selected.

Robertson said that working with the READi researchers and understanding this way of thinking has helped her in looking at her teaching in the larger picture.

“As teachers, life is so busy that you rarely get a chance to stop and think about what you’re doing, what isn’t working and how to change it and have someone come into your room and videotape and talk about it, it’s neat, it’s a really neat experience,” Robertson said.

Oliver also believes that the READi project has given her a broader understanding of her teaching, but said its multiple texts component was not directly applicable to English.

“It has given me a broader understanding of why we do the things that we do and what the effects of them are on student education,” Oliver said. “It’s not wholly applicable to everything we do because it has this multiple text component and we’re writing about one book. It still affects the way I think about argumentation and all of the reading and conversations I’ve had about what makes good argumentation have helped me think about that in a deeper way.”

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All The Talon Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *