TCRWP Twitter Spotlight!
Read through the #TCRWP's Twitter Guide to learn helpful ways to improve the learning in your schools and districts!
P.S. 54 Oscar Night!
New York City is certainly no stranger to red carpet events, but needless to say, when PS 54, hosted their own black-tie affair, it was a night to remember!
Parents as Writing Partners
A look back on Mary Ehrenworth's article in Educational Leadership
Preparing Children for the Summer Ahead
With summer fast approaching, you are probably starting to think about ways to support your students' reading and writing development through the summer months.
TCRWP Job Board
TC students have recently graduated and now are busy interviewing for positions and doing demonstration lessons.
Running Records -- Powerful Assessment Tools
As teachers conduct running records, the initial goal is often to see if readers are ready to move into the next level.
A TCRWP Day for Classroom Tech
No matter the speed with which it is happening, change is inevitable: technology is changing the way that teachers plan and teach and the ways that students learn.
Five Easy Tips for Increasing Volume in Writing Workshop
Adapted from The Quick Guide to Reaching Struggling Writers By Colleeen Cruz
The Units of Study 2014-2015 Seminars
See when we'll be in the following cities: New York, NY, Phoenix, AZ, Denver, CO, Houston, TX, Dallas, TX, Orlando, FL
View Schedule »
American History and Content Area Literacy Institute
A Look Back at the TCRWP Argument Institute
"The TCRWP hosted its first institute on argumentation. The week was kicked off at Teachers College, beginning with words from Lucy, followed by a keynote from Doug Reeves"
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Nell K. Duke, Researcher with a Heart
"All kids have prior knowledge. The question is, does it match what they are learning in school?"
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April 9th's Op-Ed in the The New York Times
Liz Phillips, Principal of P.S. 321 in Brooklyn, discussed this year's English Language Arts test and the need for transparency in standardized testing.
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Content Area Mini Institute
Each February, educators across the globe come to the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project's Institute on Content Area Literacy.
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January 2014 TCRWP Coaching Institute
Braving the harsh January winds, teachers, coaches and administrators ascended upon the warm comforts of Teachers College for the 11th Annual Coaching Institute.
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Carmen Fariña Addresses TCRWP Principals
"We dreamed of this moment," with these words, Lucy Calkins welcomed Carmen Fariña, New York City Schools Chancellor, to address the March 2014 Principals Conference.
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Top 5 Ways to Become a Stronger Writing Teacher: A Book Study of Writing Pathways
Insightful conversations about writing assessments and tracking student progress across the unit and year.
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What does upper grade and middle school independent reading look like, what does the research say, and how do you know if it's going well?
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Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing Rubric FAQs
In recent months, the TCRWP has fielded several questions about the assessment system.
Using Charts to Review and Reflect
Charts offer the perfect opportunity for review and reflection because they are the visual record of the teaching and learning that has occurred in any classroom.
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Regents Adjust Common Core Implementation
Read and find out about the adjustments that the state is planning around the implementation of the Common Core.
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Around the Room (and World): A View of Workshop Classrooms
The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is delighted to present a series of video clips highlighting the work of teachers in their classrooms.
The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project has become the home for Reading Rescue,
a powerful, tested approach to reading intervention.
TCRWP Twitter Book Chats
The TCRWP has established Twitter Chats every Wednesday evening from 7:30-8:30 EST."
How Can I Help at Home? 5 Ways to Support Your Child’s Reading and Writing Life
Parents often ask, "What can I do to help my child with reading and writing?"
Hej Hej (Hey Hey) from Gothenburg, Sweden!
The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project has been presenting Reading and Writing Institutes in Gothenburg, Sweden, the second largest city in Sweden, since 2009.
Reflecting on the TCRWP Coaching Writing Institute
“If you can imagine things aren’t quite what they seem, and dream of possibilities that only you can dream of, then anything can happen.”
From Imagine by Bart Vivian
Educational Leadership: Unlocking Secrets of Complex Text
Read about teaching students about reading complex texts in last month's Educational Leadership. Mary Ehrenworth...
85th Annual Saturday Reunion
“And that’s how it all began. With a vacuum cleaner. Really.” And with this line, from Kate DiCamillo’s new book, Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, the 85th Teachers...
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July 15, 2014 at 2:44pm
In Mary Ehrenworth's keynote address at the Reading Institute, she suggested working on argument during read aloud. below you will find a protocol that she presented in how to engage students in this work during reading.
- Text Selection
Choose a text that will be accessible and engaging and that merits rereading either because it is delightfully entertaining, or provocative, or both. Look for complexity rather than difficulty (so, the characters and/or setting are complex, or the themes and issues it illuminates are complicated). Look for texts that include images when possible, to engage more readers and introduce a different kind of complexity.
- Set Up the Initial Argument
The teacher sets up the argument and the positions. Kids need to be in partnerships – and these partnerships will actually function as opponents. You'll give Partner A and Partner Beach different positions to defend. (There is something about saying ‘defend your position' that seems to strike a chord with kids).
- Read Aloud and Collecting Evidence
You read aloud, giving kids time to collect evidence – older kids will jot as you read, younger ones may simply use their fingers to keep track of how much evidence they've got so far. You don't have to read the whole story – in fact, it's often helpful to stop after just a little bit, and say, "you should have something by now!"
- Defending Positions/Making Their Arguments : Flash-debating
Set Partner A up to defend his or her position first. "Partner A, are you ready to defend your position..." - then restate that position to help them remember it exactly. You might prompt, "think to yourself...what evidence will you give first...what second..." Let Partners A know they will only have one (or two once they're good at this) minutes to argue – that way, they have to think which evidence they want to include – they have to not only sort it but rank it. You might say, "put a star next to any evidence you definitely want to get to."
- Giving predictable feedback to hone their logic and raise the level of their discourse
You can give feed feedback either in between Partner A and Partner B, or after they both go, or both. Give just one tip each time, so they can put it into play immediately – the tips are most useful when they will get repeated, immediate opportunities for practice. Then when they do the next round of argument, you can give more feedback, in the form of a tip.
Predictable feedback includes:
- expecting to have to actively and imaginatively seek evidence (the story isn't going to say...and so this proves that...)
- ranking evidence so you get to your most important either first or last
- stating your position with a big, bold claim
- using transitions to make your points more powerful (most importantly...surprisingly...and another thing...)
- framing evidence by retelling the part of the story it's from, and then explaining it
- sorting out the logic of claim/reasons/evidence
- noting and responding to opponent's points and perspective
- arguing to come to new thinking, not arguing to prove a point
- Layer toward complexity
Begin with accessible arguments, such as is a character weak or strong, was a decision made by the character good or bad, is this place a good or bad place or time to live, etc. It can be helpful to move from character or setting to lesson or theme to author's craft. The positions often begin as binary opposites, and are pretty simplified (she's a good sister/bad sister). Then you can move towards ones that are more nuanced and not necessarily oppositional (the most important theme is that in tough times and places, all you need is love, versus the most important theme is that in tough times and places, all you need is hope).
- Integrate skills across reading, talking, and writing
Consider opportunities for kids to extend and integrate skills, such as by: flash-drafting their arguments; coming up with their own debatable ideas for their partnerships and book clubs; filming their flash-debates so they can self-assess; repeating the work with non-fiction texts and topics. Also, practice off of read aloud texts, partner and book club texts, digital texts.
July 15, 2014 at 12:26pm
As TCRWP reading and writing institutes continue across the country, Colonial Williamsburg and staff developers from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project hosted an Institute in American History and Content Area Literacy.
The weeklong institute is designed for history teachers with experience leading reading and writing workshops and a keen interest in developing a literacy-rich history curriculum. Participants traveled to Williamsburg, VA to study early American history "on location", while working together to explore ways to intersect best literacy practices and history instruction.
Across the five days, participants exchanged ideas with Colonial Williamsburg historians, and took part in reenactments of key events in American history—all the while, considering the methods and approaches for integrating these practices into the teaching of history.
Emily Butler Smith, lead staff developer at the TCRWP, helped participants draw on the latest methods in reading, note-taking, and writing informational and argument texts in connection to best practices in content area literacy in order to develop new ways to fold the teaching of literacy and history together.
Read more about this institute in the Virginia Gazette here.
July 8, 2014 at 1:06pm
Summer institute season is in full swing! Now that the first two Teachers College Reading and Writing Project institutes are over, participants from across the country, and across the world, have returned home, with full hearts, full minds, and certainly full notebooks!
One participant tweets from her plane ride home! Already planning an interactive read aloud!
But here at the Project, things are just getting started, as we enter the next phase of institutes. Staff developers are packing their suitcases to travel to towns, cities, and nations across the globe to work with schools and entire districts that have assembled for "homegrown institutes." These institutes might be as small as thirty spirited teachers, or as large as 800--each locally situated and tailored to the specific needs and goals of the hosting district or school.
Those who stage these institutes appreciate the opportunity to work with teachers, coaches and administrators in ways that build professional networks within schools—helping form the support teams necessary in keeping the literacy work going strong, long after the institutes end. This ultimately matters most.
One participant tweets an important message from the NYC Institute.
After all, it's not a small thing for teachers to gather side-by-side, and read and write together, exploring new territories, moving out of comfort zones, reflecting and trying again, and outgrowing themselves in the company of others—all the while, thinking about ways to bring new methods and strategies into their classrooms to refresh their practice to best support children as readers and writers. Participants in recent institutes have said, "I used to think that giving kids the topic helped make their writing better. Now I realize, ideas needs to come from within. Engagement is everything." "I can't believe I'm saying this, but I wish we were going back to school sooner. I'm so excited to start all over!" "It always felt like separate pieces to me. I always felt so scrambled. Now, it all makes sense. Everything fits together."
You can follow the Dancing Lady on her travels! She's already climbed the hills of San Francisco, scored tickets to a Broadway show, visited 3M Headquarters- home of the Post-it, posed next to Minneapolis' famous sculptures, and taken a walk beneath the palm trees in Florida.
Where will she go next? Find her, along with the voices of our growing TCRWP community on Twitter, using @TCRWP and #TCRWP and on Facebook, search: The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Be sure to share your #TCRWP moments with us this summer! We’ll be sure to share ours!
June 30, 2014 at 1:34pm
Read through the #TCRWP's Twitter Guide to learn helpful ways to improve the learning in your schools and districts! Information on the Summer Chat series, the new Middle School Units of Study in Writing Twitter Festival, and TCRWP staff handles are also available!
June 16, 2014 at 4:02pm
New York City is certainly no stranger to red carpet events, but needless to say, when PS 54, the Magnet School for Environmental Studies in Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, hosted their own black-tie affair, it was a night to remember!
It wasn't long after the Second Grade launched into the Writing About Reading opinion unit, that students were buzzing about their favorite books, characters, and authors. The children spent the first few weeks writing letters to anyone and everyone about the books they were reading, spending reading workshop marking parts to later write about. They searched for evidence to support their opinions and recorded these details to make their letters more compelling. In the final bend, students were urged to write nominations for these books, determining special awards they each deserved. Ms. Brown, a second-grade teacher, played a short clip of The Oscars to build excitement for this new work. The next thing she knew, students worked feverishly nominating their favorite series characters, illustrators, mystery boos—the list goes on! The writers across the second grade were churning out nomination after nomination, while the students begged to watch the Oscars clip again and again. It was then that Ms. Brown decided they would host their own Academy Awards ceremony.
Students came up with major categories such as, "Silliest Character", "Bossiest Character", and "The Best Friends Award" among others. Then, they wrote nominations—stating their opinions and supporting them with reasons and examples from the text. Judging panels debated for days leading up the vote, before deciding on the winner. Students were eager to read the every book to weigh the nominees carefully. Once ballot boxes had been filled, the boys and girls known for being great secret-keepers tallied the votes.
When Oscar night finally arrived, ushers escorted invited guests to their seats in the auditorium. You could hear students whispering their predictions, "I think Tamika will win meanest character." "I think it'll be Kevin from Pinky and Rex." Writers read their nominations aloud, envelopes were opened, and awards were presented!
Ms. Kahn, the principal, was so impressed by the students. She was thrilled by how articulate and well developed their pieces were and how strong they each had become as opinion writers. "It is about books!" Ms. Kahn explained. "It is about reading books, writing about books, debating books, talking about books, and celebrating books. If I can get these kids to love books, then I can go home."
Ms. Kahn purchased books for all the writers and each child left the "after party" with a new book! "They're excited to read all the books nominated, the same way I want to watch all the movies nominated for The Oscars."
In a time when a school's focus can quickly shift to test prep, teacher evaluations, or assessment, P.S. 54 kept their focus on loving books!