For many years, The Reading and Writing Project has engaged in research, staff development, and curriculum planning to support content area literacy. Infusing content area studies with rich literacy skills continues to be exciting and important work. To study history in particular requires a high level of facility in reading and writing. Students must engage in integrating information from multiple texts, close reading of primary sources, taking notes flexibly based on the information they are learning, and reporting on their learning in a variety of ways.
It’s planting seeds in a garden you never get to see.
I wrote some notes at the beginning of a song someone will
Sing for me . . .
—From Hamilton by Lin-Manuel Miranda
The gray hangs from the February sky like the roof of a tent heavy with rain. It’s during these wintry days when I feel most vulnerable as a teacher. I’m also sensing winter’s hold on my students, and I begin to wonder if I make even the smallest difference for them.
As a reader, I am captivated by characters. Major characters who drive plot or who find themselves transformed by conflict, minor characters who flesh out stories and live in the space between interesting and important, or characters who are easily forgotten.
In A Guide to the Reading Workshop, Lucy Calkins writes, “Your classroom library holds a lot of power. It sends a strong message to the readers in your classroom, and it should convey that reading is important and that books are to be celebrated, treasured, and enjoyed.”
Lucy outlines critical tips for organizing classroom libraries, including:
In today’s climate, many of our students’ families are feeling anxious. Anxious about whether they are welcome in the United States. Anxious about escalating disagreements and protests surrounding immigrants from countries near and far. Anxious that loved ones may be deported. Regardless of our own political beliefs, as teachers, we are called to empathize with, support, and love our students. We are called to respond to their social and emotional challenges as much as their academic ones. I am reminded of this each day that I open the newspaper or read about current events online, and over and over, the following story pops into my head, as clearly as if I had experienced it yesterday.
If you are a K-2 teacher, have you ever asked: “During reading workshop, what kinds of meaningful work can students be doing independently, while I confer one-on-one or with small groups?” Lindsey Moses hears this common frustration among those who work with our youngest readers in her work with teachers around the country. That’s why Lindsey, along with First grade teacher Meridith Ogden, wrote: What are the Rest of My Kids Doing? Their goal is to help you move beyond assigning busy work to providing purposeful learning experiences that build independence over the year and ideally take the anxiety out of reading workshop.
In Kindergarten and sometimes even in Pre-K, teachers in reading workshop classrooms give several assessments so they can understand what children know about how reading goes (These are available free on The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project website.) They include: