Author Archives: Ashley Puffer

What Does Research Say Adolescent Readers Need?

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A Preview from A Guide to the Reading Workshop: Middle Grades

by Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth

Over decades of research (1977, 2002), Richard Allington has returned often to the three key conditions readers need to thrive:

  1. time to read,
  2. access to books they find fascinating, and
  3. expert instruction.

The first condition, time to read, means examining middle school schedules to make sure students get time to practice. Allington argued, and many other researchers have argued, that above all, students need time to engage in reading in order to get better at reading. Arguing for time for independent reading in schools, Donalyn Miller (2015) likens the situation of students needing to read in order to get better at reading to learning a sport or an instrument. No one ever asks the coach why his players are practicing on the field, and no one asks the music teacher why students are playing instruments during practice times. The only way to get better at doing something is to practice doing it. 

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Engaging Readers: Lucy Calkins discusses the TCRWP Classroom Libraries

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In the first two installments of this blog series, we discussed why particularly chosen books matter and how the TCRWP Classroom Libraries were selected. In this final part of the series, we will explore additional, innovative ways that the team focused on driving reading engagement.

One such way is through the tools and resources that accompany the libraries. A vast collection of brightly colored, attractive book bin labels and book level labels lure kids to bins with irresistible topics. Additionally, student sticky-note pads help promote close, active reading. Students can identify “Must-Reads” and “Watch Out!” sections for others by leaving these helpful sticky notes in the book. Watch the video below to check out these amazing resources:

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An Unprecedented Curation Process: Lucy Calkins and Colleagues Discuss the TCRWP Classroom Libraries

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Last week in the first installment of this three-part series we discussed the inspiration behind the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project Classroom Libraries and began exploring the vision that guided the curators, a team made up of TCRWP staff, literacy coaches, renowned librarians, mentor teachers, and children’s literature experts such as Anita Silvey. This week we dive deeper into the fascinating story of the curation process.

The setting: Thorndike Hall, an enormous sub-basement at Teachers College, Columbia University. Hunkered down in their makeshift headquarters, TCRWP staff members sorted through boxes upon boxes of books recommended by over eight hundred educators and librarians from around the world. Over the course of a year, they meticulously reviewed tens of thousands of books using multiple selection criteria and consulted with dozens of the world’s leading experts in literacy and children’s literature. Lucy gives her first-hand perspective of the collaborative process here:

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The Importance of Choosing the Right Book: Lucy Calkins Discusses the Classroom Libraries

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Lucy Calkins recently sat down to discuss the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project’s groundbreaking Classroom Libraries for grades K-8. Throughout this three-blog series, Lucy answers your most frequently asked questions about the TCRWP Classroom Libraries. In the following video Lucy talks about "What Inspired the TCRWP Classroom Libraries project?"  where she asserts that she and her TCRWP colleagues began the project with the conviction that,  “the particular book matters.” In other words, children are drawn to read more when they are enjoying the particular book they’re reading.

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