As a college student, at twenty, I found myself under the tutelage of an educator of color for the first time ever. I did not learn from another one until I was thirty. During my tenure as an educator, I have served students as diverse as America itself. I scoured my memory. I can merely recall fewer than ten colleagues of color among the hundreds with whom I’ve worked. In March I traveled from rural Alaska to New York City to visit Heinemann Fellow Tiana Silvas and her colleagues at PS 59. I was looking for effective instructional strategies. At forty, nineteen years into my teaching career, I found what I hope all thoughtful, passionate educators, regardless of race or ethnicity, will someday find in order to better serve our students. I found community—just as I am.
In the first two installments of this blog series, we discussed why particularly chosen books matter and how the TCRWP Classroom Librarieswere 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:
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:
Ever wonder how to get students genuinely engaged in your curriculum? Or wish you could let them explore those amazing questions they brim with? In his new book, The Curious Classroom, Harvey "Smokey" Daniels provides research-based suggestions that help cover the curriculum by connecting what kids wonder about to the wonders you have to teach them.
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So what is student-directed inquiry approach, and how is it different from other project-based and inquiry-oriented teaching models? Here’s a quick sketch of what student-directed inquiry looks like:
Homework. The word alone evokes strong emotions from children, youth, parents, and teachers. For most teachers, this word sits right between rock and hard place. Assign too much homework, and teachers run the risk of complaints, if not outright misery, from parents, students, and—feeling the need to give feedback on all that homework—themselves. Assign too little homework, and teachers risk being seen as “soft” and lacking in rigor, and because homework can feel like it helps “cover” the curriculum, feeling further behind. And that just regards the issue of how much homework. Then there are all the complexities around what kinds of homework.