Reading for Engagement

Learn advanced reading skills for success in grades 5-7!

As students advance into middle school, they develop improved abilities to reason and problem solve. Additionally, they encounter increasingly difficult texts which require different techniques for effective engagement. This course is partly based on the Reading for Apprenticeship (RA) program and also includes literary analysis skills. It has been designed and will be taught by Ms. Deanna Heikkinen, who is a certified user and trainer of the RA method and has taught literature for over 15 years to students from 2nd grade through college. The goal of this course is to support the transition from learning isolated facts and concepts to integrating ideas learned through reading.

Using readings in both fiction and non-fiction genres, students will learn to engage with texts on a deeper, metacognitive level to develop reading comprehension skills. Drawing on reading methods that were developed for this age group, students will learn techniques such as reading aloud with a partner, writing down questions as they read, and taking effective notes.

In addition to the reading comprehension portion of the class, students will examine literature through a more critical lens learning concepts such as theme, plot, mood, tone, metaphor, and other literary techniques. Students will analyze poetry, short stories, and a full-length novel. 

Reading for school and learning is much different than reading for pleasure, which is why this course can prove valuable for even the most avid of readers.

Learning Outcomes
  • Develop problem-solving strategies
  • Learn to break down text
  • Set and adjust reading goals
  • Increase reading fluency, stamina, and range
  • Foster confidence and persistence

Class Size: 6
Instructor: Ms. Deanna Heikkinen
Class Day: Thursdays 4:45-5:45p ET
Dates: September 11 – December 20 (no class held the week of Thanksgiving)
Tuition: $910 (14 classes), $25 registration fee for new families

Required Materials: Printer, 3-hole punch, one-inch binder with tabs, loose leaf paper, journal or composition-style notebook


Unit 1: We introduce the concept of reading for engagement. Students practice thinking aloud while reading a text.

Unit 2: Students practice writing down their thoughts as they read.

Unit 3: We continue practicing “think aloud” and “talking to the text” skills with fiction and nonfiction materials.

Unit 4: We learn best practices for textbook reading.

Unit 5: Students learn a double-entry note-taking method for reading texts to take note of evidence in one column and their thoughts, feelings, and questions in another.

Unit 6: We expand to a triple-entry note-taking system, which incorporates information relating to the student’s assignment or prompt. This works well for literary analysis and higher-level conceptual assignments.

Unit 7: We introduce the reading log to assist students in building and maintaining a reading list for school and enjoyment. We discuss getting comfortable reading about subjects that do not initially interest us.

Unit 8: Students demonstrate how the tools introduced throughout the summer have assisted them in interacting with texts that initially appeared difficult or uninteresting.

Unit 9: Focused on literary analysis, this unit teaches students not only how to read literature, understanding the devices such as symbolism, tone, and metaphor, it also teaches them how to identify theme (one of the most important things to understand about a piece of writing), character arcs, and plot breakdown. 

The minimum enrollment required for this course is four (4) students. Rose Writing Center reserves the right to cancel this course in the event that fewer than four students enroll. Students enrolled in a canceled course will be duly notified and may choose to either receive a full refund or transfer to another course by Rose Writing Center.

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