BHS staff in grades K-8 engaged in a day of professional learning with Columbia University’s Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Teachers were provided with Lucy Calkins’ 5-part workshop framework, which is a combination of whole-class, small group, one-on-one instruction, and independent practice. The classroom workshop structure, along with the teacher’s mini lessons, address each child’s individual learning, explicitly teach strategies students will use both on that day and throughout their reading and writing lives. The 2019-2020 school year will be our first year of implementation of these instructional materials.
How has the Lucy Calkins Unit of Study helped teachers and students meet the standards of Common Core?
The Reading and Writing Project’s approach to instruction recognizes that “one size fits all” does not match the realities of the classrooms and schools in which they work. The units include all of the reading, writing, speaking, and listening standards referenced by grade level within the Michigan Academic standards (ELA Common Core) and the majority of the language standards. As the workshop is just one component of a balanced approach to literacy instruction space is still made within the instructional day for phonics, shared reading and writing, word study, and vocabulary development in addition to the Units of Study for Teaching Reading and Writing.
During the Independent Reading portion of workshop, teachers support small-group work and conferring with multiple opportunities to personalize instruction for each reader or writer. This supports students as they move through the various bands of text complexity as the standards require. The routines and structures of the reading or writing workshop are kept intentionally predictable across all grade levels and students build both independence and stamina over time. The known structures also provide space for teachers to focus on the complex work of teaching in a responsive manner to accelerate achievement for all learners.The goal is to build a strong community of readers and writers in each classroom that engage with a variety of texts and each other as a means for growing more sophisticated literate lives.
How does our workshop approach help our students become more passionate about reading and writing?
The Units of Study for Teaching Reading and Writing are grounded in research around the elements that need to be included for children to be successful readers. A love of reading is certainly a fundamental element! As we begin to leverage a new instructional resource this school year, our teachers and students have been very excited about what they are seeing in their readers just 3 months into the school year! Our teachers have shared that their readers are able to apply strategies with greater flexibility and intentionality. Students are able to articulate their reading and writing work and purpose when you visit with them in a workshop setting, As our students begin to move across grade levels in their educational experience the skills will continue to spiral and build on one another in increasing complexity. At our starting point, staff are excited to observe how immersed our students are in the books of their choosing. Students are actively engaged and able to link how the ideas in one unit build upon work in another. Some of the key components of our staff continue to study are methods of engaging readers and writers, including the skills necessary to help build identity, fluency, stamina, and engagement with multiple text types for multiple purposes. Staff are also continually engaged with considered different levels of questioning, accountable talk, independence, read alouds and building student choice and voice.