Best Book I Have Not Read

Writing, Reading, Teaching, Life, Attempting to Balance it All

In case you don’t have spring break plans February 20, 2012

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The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project

presents the

The 82nd Saturday Reunion

March 24, 2012
9:00 am – 3:00 pm

Join the entire TCRWP community as we open our doors to thousands of K-8 educators from around the world for more than 140 free workshops, keynotes and closings on state-of-the art methods in the teaching of reading, writing, performance assessments and the Common Core. The entire TCRWP staff will present on this day, including Lucy Calkins. Guest literacy leaders will present as well. Topics will include: argument writing, embedding historical fiction in nonfiction text sets, opinion writing for very young writers, managing workshop instruction, aligning instruction to the CCSS, using performance assessments and curriculum maps to ratchet up the level of teaching, state-of-the-art test prep, phonics, guided reading and more.

Major Speakers include:

Pam Muñoz Ryan, our opening keynote speaker, has written over thirty books for young people including the award-winning Esperanza Rising, as well as Riding Freedom, Paint the Wind, and The Dreamer. She is the recipient of the Civil and Human Rights Award from the NEA, of the Virginia Hamilton Award for Multicultural Literature, and of the Willa Cather Literacy Award for writing.

David Booth, an expert in children’s literature and drama, has keynoted TCRWP conferences and authored many of our favorite professional books including Reading Doesn’t Matter Anymore, The Literacy Principle, Guiding the Reading Process, and Even Hockey Players Read. He has been a literacy leader through his work as a classroom teacher, language arts consultant, keynote, speaker, and author, as well as a Scholar in Residence at the University of Toronto.

Sarah Weeks, our closing keynote speaker, is famous throughout the TCRWP community for her light-hearted speeches. She is the author of more than fifty picture books and novels including the bestselling novel, So B. It. Two of her most recent contributions are MAC AND CHEESE and PIE. Sarah is an adjunct faculty member at the New School and a founding member of ART, a traveling troupe of authors who perform readers’ theatre across the country.

Carl Anderson is the author of the acclaimed books: Assessing Writers and How’s it Going? A Practical Guide to Conferring with Student Writers. His latest project is a book series: Strategic Writing Conferences: Smart Conversations That Move Young Writers Forward.

Lucy Calkins is Founding Director of the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, as well as the Robinson Professor of Children’s Literature at Teachers College. She is the author or co-author of over a score of books, including the Units of Study books for K-2 and 3-5 writing and for 3-5 reading, The Art of Teaching Reading, The Art of Teaching Writing and the upcoming Pathways to the Common Core.

Kathy Collins, author of Growing Readers: Units of Study in the Primary Classroom, and Reading for Real, teaches large group and advanced sections of TCRWP institutes.

Colleen Cruz, a senior staff developer at the Project, is the author of Independent Writing, of Reaching Struggling Writers, K-5 and of the young adult novel, Border Crossing, as well as co-author of Writing Fiction: Big Dreams, Tall Ambitions.

Mary Ehrenworth is Deputy Director for Middle Schools at the Project. She is co-author of The Power of Grammar, of two books in the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades 3-5, and of the upcoming Pathways to the Common Core.

Amanda Hartman, Lead Coach at the Project, is co-author of Authors as Mentors, of The Conferring Handbook and of One-to-One: The Art of Conferring with Young Writers.

Laurie Pessah, Senior Deputy Director of the Project, is co-author of Nonfiction Writing: Procedures and Reports and of A Principal’s Guide to Leadership in the Teaching of Writing.

Jennifer Serravallo, a senior staff developer at the Project, is author of Independent Reading Assessment: Fiction, Teaching Reading in Small Groups, and co-author of Conferring with Readers.

Kathleen Tolan, Senior Deputy Director of the Project, is co-author of Building a Reading Life, Following Characters into Meaning, and Navigating Nonfiction in the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades 3-5.

The Morning Keynote will be held at Riverside Church at 9:00 a.m.
490 Riverside Drive (between 120th and 122nd Streets)
The ensuing workshops will be held at Teachers College, 525 W.120th Street, NY 10027
No registration required. For more information, visit our website at: www.readingandwritingproject.com

 

So excited about…. Professional Reading Groups February 18, 2012

Hey all you Nerdy Book Club Readers! I’m so excited!

The International School of Dakar (where I will be heading up curriculum next year) is planning and ordering for their Professional Reading Group titles for next year.  The groups are voluntary, meet monthly, and  teachers get to pick what interests them (the book is provided for them by the school). Last year they read Digital Natives by Mark Prensky and Sir Ken Robinson’s The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. I voted for Lucy Calkins’ newest title (due out in April) Pathways to the Common Core: Accelerating Achievement. Everything I’ve ever read that has come from the Teachers Reading and Writing Project at Columbia has been so thoughtfully written and helpful. I’m also interested in reading Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness. I really enjoyed the Heath Brothers’ Switch, and Nudge keeps getting suggested to me by Amazon.

What books are you reading with a Professional Reading Group this year that you would recommend? Wish you could read? 


 

Lucy Calkins NCTE Notes December 12, 2011

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Harnessing the Power of the Common Core Standards Alongside the Engine of Reading and Writing Workshop Across the Curriculum, Grades 3–9 Lucy Calkins, Mary Ehrenworth; authors, Pathways to the Common Core (Spring 2012)

Calkins’ mini-lessons for student readers: “What you get out of reading will be different if you approach it like curmudgeons vs. approaching it like the text is gold.”

Same applies for the Common Core.

Complaints about the Common Core (the curmudgeon):

• It will lead people to “beat teachers up” at a time when they are already suffering; accuse them of not teaching what students “need”

• There’s no money for anything already, where is the money coming from for PD and cost-per-child for testing?

• ELA students are unequipped to meet these standards as set out

• Informational text and literature standards for reading are mirrored, which is unrealistic

• Who wrote these, anyway? “Written by committee,” and they’re continuing to write additions that have not been ratified yet (personal opinion pieces) but they appear to be part of the CCSS.

• End points are clear, but the methods of reaching them are not, and these personally-authored pieces are all over the place (but again, treated like part of the CCSS).

However: We have to look at CCSS and see hope and opportunity rather than despair. (Newark, NJ example about young mayor)

Positive things about CCSS (the “gold):

• It’s a “wake-up call” in a system that is “really, really late” in terms of quality of education. The average college grad reads one book a year – this in an age of informational overload. • Will help us offer the “rich curriculum” to all kids at a time when 80% of jobs require “high literacy skills”

• The practices of comprehension are so much more complex than they used to be (definition-wise); so is the practice of writing, and the standards reflect that.

• Streamlined – not “thousands of pages” long

• Each grade’s standards hold other grades accountable; “it takes a village” to teach literacy

• Gives a starting place to help develop kids’ skills. • Asks for kids to do complex work with independence

• Puts an emphasis on reading complex texts • Asks for teachers and principals to make big decisions

Mary Ehrenworth: Looking at the Common Core Reading Standards The reading standards:

• Ask for a high level of reading (text complexity), which is refreshing.

• Build on each other – you can’t do the later ones without the earlier ones.

• Ask “what does the text say, and how does it work”? (Note: This aligns exactly with Junior Great Books activities. Seriously. It’s asking kids to stay within the text and supply details from it.)

Mary walked us through the reading standards by asking us to apply them (using an example from Charlotte’s Web):

• Restate the text (restructuring)

• Determine central idea(s) (and give examples)

• Connect your new ideas back to the earlier ideas and see how they’ve developed

• Determine important and metaphorical words/phrases/language

• Think about structure (time)

• Think about point of view Recommended doing some of this work with colleagues to practice. Looking at the Writing Standards

• Divided by types of writing o Narrative: Personal, realistic fiction, historical fiction, memoir o Argument: Personal essay, persuasive essay, literary essay, research essay o Informational: Nonfiction articles, nonfiction books

• Think about whether your students are getting the opportunity to become good at writing these types of text, and what that kind of writing should look like across K–12 and across curriculum.
• Writing standards are cumulative; they build on each other. Take a piece of writing and see how it would develop across the grades based on the standards. (I was unclear whether she meant a student’s writing or an extant text; I think she means student writing.)

Calkins: How to Make the Common Core Work in Schools

• CCSS asks for institutional buy-in: Everyone agrees on working toward certain levels of ability, and it only works if everyone does it (at all levels and across disciplines) Also, CCSS calls for cross-curricular integration.

• CCSS asks for us to “lift the level of teaching and learning” (which is not new in terms of large-scale efforts, and most of those haven’t worked – see NCLB). It’s not just about standards; it’s a call for school reform. So we have to learn from our reform mistakes and not repeat them. • Most people’s reaction will be to read the CCSS and then add new programs and policies and initiatives to meet the core. However, CCSS is not calling for curricular compliance; it’s calling for an acceleration of student achievement (however that is accomplished). The best way to lift the level of achievement is not to add, it’s to see what strong stuff you already have that “gestures toward the common core” and do it more often with more focus and rigor. • You also need school buy-in to the strongest initiatives: A lot of teachers equate professionalism with autonomy, but to the outside world, professionalism is the opposite (relying on a body of knowledge bigger than yourself, and working well with others).

• To work in schools, the core needs to be “socially supported” in the school. Motivation is the holy grail of school reform. “Most people, when faced with the choice between ‘change’ or ‘die,’ will choose ‘die.’” The only way to motivate serious change is through the creation of support groups.

• Locate the good work being done, create communities in which to share the work, and share it. Groundbreaking Research Lucy Calkins cited Visible Learning by John Hattie: The factor that promotes achievement more than anything else is effective feedback:

• The learner needs a clear goal to work toward that is realistic but challenging.

• The teacher watches and gives feedback that is supportive (informational, not just praise “This is what you’re doing well”) and critical. • The teacher watches to see if the learner improves; this is the teacher’s feedback.

• Kids and teachers both need a clear sense of what it means to “do the work better” and how/where the progress is being made. CCSS lays that out.

 

Upcoming Teachers College Reading Institute June 30, 2010

I’m trying  to make my brain think of things I need to remember to pack /tidbits I’m glad I know for the upcoming TCRWP Reading Institute next week. I’m attending with two teachers-both of whom have not attended before. One is a second grade teacher and one is a fourth grade teacher.

Here are some tips I shared with them:

Pack a little umbrella-trying to find one in a store when it is raining is no fun
Plan on LOTS of walking. Columbia is spread out and it won’t be unusual for the keynote to be at one end of the campus and then the small group session to be six blocks away. Also lots of four+ story buildings with stairs.
They do give us a tote/bag with needed binder/books, etc. the first moring. It is a nice size and has a pocket for a water bottle-which we will want to carry with us.
Many times I would buy a bagel/sandwich or something like that when I bought my coffee in the morning before the keynote-then carry it with me to eat for “lunch”–Even though there is a lunch break, it isn’t terribly long to have bathroom break, get to next session site, and try to stop sweating –some days I would sit outside in the campus quad, eat whatever I’d picked up, call the kids, and watch the interesting things going on.
There is an AMAZING farmer’s market outside the keynote hall, but I dont’ remember which day.
 
Bring a notebook and pens for your own notes. I filled an entire five subject spiral last summer.
I’ve been told I might want to bring Amber Brown is not a Crayon, Because of Winn Dixie, and Tangerine along for one of my sessions which focuses on assessment. I was also encouraged to do an assessment using Skylark ahead of time.
In the advanced section, we will all be receiving Lucy’s new Guidebook from the newly published Reading Units of Study. I’m expecting my two colleagues to receive The Art of Teaching Reading.
 

It’s That Time of Year February 20, 2010

It’s the time of year when teachers need to start planning their professional development for the summer. Applications for the Reading and Writing Institutes at Teachers College Reading and Writing Project are now open! I am drooling! I don’t know if the fates will line up for me to travel to New York for the “best professional development” ever, but I can dream! I would really like to attend an advanced section of the Reading Institute, especially with the highly anticipated, upcoming release of the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades 3-5 (At least highly anticipated by me-you can now pre-order it on Heinemann but it doesn’t list the ship date. Since she was still finishing the writing when I saw Lucy Calkins in Indianapolis in the end of January, the date is probably a little up in the air.)

If you can figure out a way to get yourself to New York for five days this summer, or have a nice friend who will let you crash, it will be the best pd experience you can have  and you’ll be wishing you did it for yourself years ago.

 

Lucy Calkins…here I come! January 24, 2010

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Headed off to hear all about the new Units of Study Across the Year for Upper Grade Reading. Will blog about all the new and exciting things coming from Lucy Calkins and Heinemann.

 

Units of Study Across the Year in Upper Grade Reading, Grades 3-5 November 18, 2009

“Years from today, if you were to gather close around you the children you teach now and ask them about their reading lives, would they name your teaching of reading as a turning point? Would you like it to be? Does your teaching of reading have the potential to change not only your students’ lives but also your own life? It could, if you let your teaching be a course for you, and not just for your kids. Your life as a teacher, as a reader, and as a person, could be changed in big and important ways, if you let it.” —Lucy Calkins

I’m pretty excited about the upcoming Units of Study for Teaching Reading: A Workshop Curriculum (Grades 3-5) by Lucy Calkins and Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. Originally the predicted release date was Winter 2010. Now it’s Spring 2010. I want it now!

I’m trying to decide if the Heinemann one-day workshop by Lucy Calkins on UOS in Upper Grade Reading will be beneficial to attend in January even though I won’t be able to have my hands on those books. Will it be beneficial to hear Lucy Calkins explain the UOS ahead of time? OR Will it be frustrating because the books aren’t available for purchase yet?

I’ve never attended a non-beneficial Heinemann Professional Development session and certainly LOVE Lucy, so I’m leaning towards attending.

Oohhh-I did just find that at the Units of Study website, there is an audio of Lucy Calkins giving an overview of the new Teaching Reading series. If you have never seen her speak, you should listen to this. Just hearing her voice makes me want to be a better teacher!

Here’s the transcript:

Units of Study for Teaching Reading: A Series Overview

A transcript of remarks by Lucy Calkins

Founding Director, Teachers College Reading & Writing Project

Teacher’s Guide

I’m excited to be able to tell you about Units of Study in Teaching Reading and to walk you through all

that’s there for you. The first thing is a book called “A Guide to Reading Workshop”, an overview of the

reading workshop. It describes the essential methods that will inform your teaching. In this guide to the

reading workshop, there is a chapter on conferring and small group work to support readers. There’s a

chapter on assessing readers and tracking their development and using data to inform your instruction.

There’s a chapter on the methods that are important to leading effective minilessons that explains how you

can explicitly teach the skills of powerful reading. There are chapters on the skills of powerful reading that

identify what it is that proficient readers do that we need to be able to teach all kids. All of the other main

questions that you’ll ask about methods of teaching reading are there in the guidebook, including what do I

do to support struggling readers. The guidebook is deliberately lean and meant not to overwhelm you but to

enable you to get the essence of all of these methods and this content, because in fact, the unit books

themselves illustrate them. So, there’s the guide and then there are four units of study books.

Unit of Study Book 1

If you know the series The Units of Study in Teaching Writing, the Units of Study in Teaching Reading are

patterned exactly after the units in writing. The first unit is a book which really helps you to launch the

reading workshop and to teach readers those essential skills that are so foundational that you really need to

address them in September. The first book teaches readers how to read with stamina, how to monitor for

sense, how to do the kind of retelling that shows a basic level comprehension. It helps you to assess all your

readers, to match them to books, to teach them the rituals of taking books between home and school, of

keeping logs of their reading. All of that is contained in book one. But I think the challenge of book one is

that there’s a lot of really essential work that you as a teacher have to accomplish. Of course, you want to

do it in a way that inspires kids and makes them see themselves as readers. You want them to feel that they

are authoring lives as readers and that their whole community of practice this year is going to be different

than any other year. This year, reading may in fact be the best thing that they’ve ever done. This book has a

whole lot of very practical work in terms of helping you with classroom management and getting your

methods going: getting the kids assessed, getting all of them going on their trajectory as readers, and then it

also does this inspirational work.

Unit of Study Book 2

The next unit of study book is a book on character. And of course character is one of the most important

things for a reader of a fiction text to be thinking about. All of us when we read fiction are thinking about

character. So it’s a book on character, but, for you as a teacher, what you know is that you’re really

following character into higher level comprehension. That’s really what this second book is about.

Specifically, you’ll see that it helps you to teach three different main reading skills. First of all, it helps you

to teach envisionment, and as sort of an extension of envisionment, prediction. What I have come to believe

is that so often we think that some kids are born as readers. Those are the kids that are sort of nose-in-the-

book readers and you can’t take them away from books. As teachers, we sometimes think that that’s in their

DNA or something, that they just come to us that way. What this book sets out to do is to help you as a

teacher challenge that notion, that some kids are born readers and some aren’t, so that you can do

everything you possibly can to help all of your readers be nose-in-the-book readers, who read, envisioning

and on the edge of their seat predicting. The other thing that it does is take envisionment and prediction and

talk about these as skills that unroll across a trajectory. There are ways of being a novice predictor, an

intermediate predictor, and an advanced predictor. You’ll see prediction and envisionment concretely laid

out so that you have a sense of what are the real specifics that you can be teaching to move kids from where

they are to where you want to take them. So the first half of the character book begins with teaching

envisionment and prediction. And then the book makes a real turn and tackles, instead of nose-in-the-book

reading, kind of lost-in-the-story reading; it aims to help readers grow theories as they read. You could

almost say that the second half teaches how to read a little bit like a professor with literary theories that you

can support with evidence. It’s helpful to think about that as teaching readers to have a different kind of

relationship to characters. So in the first half of the book, they almost are the characters. In the second half,

it’s a more expository relationship to characters where they’re looking at characters and thinking, “What

kind of person is this? What are the character’s traits? What are my theories for the character? What is my

evidence for those theories?” All of that work is supported in the second book.

Unit of Study Book 3

The third unit is a book on navigating nonfiction. It’s hard to choose a favorite book, like it’s hard to

choose a favorite son, but at least at this moment, it may be my favorite because I think it does such

important work on the entire field of thinking about nonfiction reading. Essentially, what Kathleen and I try

to do in this book is to help readers read nonfiction. I argue that a lot of times our instruction in nonfiction

has helped readers generate some questions and shown them how to open up a nonfiction book so that they

can skim and scan it to find answers to questions. Although I think that kind of nonfiction reading is really

important, we also need to teach kids to read nonfiction; to give themselves over to a nonfiction text and to

comprehend it. To take in what a nonfiction author has said in its entirety, not just finding cool facts.

Instead of, “When the Egyptians built the pyramids they didn’t wear underwear. Isn’t that cool?”,  we want

them to comprehend the main ideas that an author’s putting forth. So the book on nonfiction forwards the

role of structure and suggests that when we’re reading nonfiction texts that are organized as expository

texts, we need to be able to use the expository structure to help us to find big ideas, to find the specifics that

support big ideas. And that when we’re reading narrative nonfiction, or nonfiction that’s written like a

story, as for example biography is, that we can actually bring all that we know from reading stories, to bear

on reading that kind of nonfiction. We can read it in a way where we synthesize the whole text by bringing

that structure to bear on it.

Unit of Study Book 4

Then the fourth book, the last of the units of study books, is a book on reading historic fiction and doing so

in book clubs. The kids will think of it as a book on reading historic fiction, and you will as well, but the

real work of this book is that it’s teaching you to help kids tackle more complex texts and to read with

higher level comprehension. In fact, the main skill work in this last book in the series is that of teaching

interpretation and critical reading. And with it, teaching kids to write about their reading. So the historic

fiction book has a lot of work to do, because it’s teaching kids to tackle more complex texts, to read with a

more literary consciousness. To take their skills and ratchet them up even higher, to specifically read,

thinking, “What is this text really about?”, to try to figure out what the theme is in a text, and to be able to

talk and write about that in ways that are powerful and compelling. All of this is done while the kids are

working not with partners, which is the social structure that supports the first three books, but instead in

book clubs, where four kids are reading shared books. And, of course, the nonfiction book has added power

because it helps students think about nonfiction in relation to historic fiction. So that kids are also learning

that you not only read a couple historic fiction books that are set in a particular era, and think across and

among those books, but also bring in nonfiction texts that relate to those books. The other work of this unit

is helping with this intertextuality, looking across books including both fiction and nonfiction texts. Those

are the main elements in the units of study series.

Resources for Teaching Reading CD-ROM

Those of you who know the CD-ROM full of resource materials in writing won’t be surprised that there’s

resource materials in reading as well. But this time we really felt, because of having listened to teachers and

their requests, that we needed to provide extra resources.

Alternative Units of Study

So we’ve got a whole other book which is designed to help teachers tailor their teaching to kids. This book

supports teachers in developing alternate units of study. It lays out in a slightly more abbreviated form, but

still with all the minilessons there, four or five other units and then in yet more abbreviated form, another

half dozen units. This final book is one that helps you not just have minilessons that you can draw on as

you author your own curriculum, but also whole units of study that you can draw on as you author

curriculum in response to your kids and in conversation with your colleagues.

 

 
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