Search #TCRWP on Twitter this week, and you’ll see scores of Tweets brimming with enthusiasm, learning, and energy from participants of The Reading and Writing Project’s annual August Reading Institute. These Tweets include snippets of wisdom from workshop leaders, featured speakers, fellow participants, and of course, from Lucy Calkins herself. (Some of the most tweeted lines from Lucy’s Monday keynote include: “Reading is no longer reading if you try to control my mind while I do it” and, "Does your book club forge relationships, take you out of your bubble, enrich your sense of self?"—Lucy Calkins.)
This week, the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project August Writing Institute is here. Thousands of educators from all over the country and world have descended upon Teachers College to learn, to talk, and to write. There is nothing quite like a TCRWP Institute. An institute is a week-long opportunity for participants to completely immerse themselves in a study of one aspect of literacy instruction. It is a chance to not only learn invaluable fundamentals and best practices, perhaps even more importantly, it is a chance to become a learner, to get to know a subject area inside out because of daily practice and reflection.
In most reading and writing units, students work in partnerships to support and extend their work. Over time, even very young students can learn to turn to a partner as the first line of defense when trouble arises. When they encounter a tricky word in their reading, for example, they can ask a partner for help rather than running to a teacher. Or, when they aren’t sure what to write about, they can ask a partner to spend a couple of minutes brainstorming. As Lucy Calkins writes in A Guide to the Reading Workshop: Primary Grades, “Partner time is designed to give young readers a second wind, renewing their energy to continue on” (p. 52). The same is true for young writers, too. With a bit of extra instruction and time, partners can learn to act as confidantes, sounding boards, and cheerleaders for each other, spurring each other on to do their best work.
If you are an educator with some time away from school this summer, hopefully you are using a lot of it to recharge. There are many ways you might choose to do this: gardening, lounging, beach-going, cleaning, socializing and, perhaps reading and writing.
Getting caught up on that stack of novels at your bedside or finally tucking into that personal journal that's been sitting empty can be such pleasures when you finally have the time. Happily, as you nurture yourself as a reader or writer this summer, you can also fuel your teaching.
These days, it’s par for the course that nonfiction reading gets equal (and sometimes greater) emphasis than fiction in most reading classrooms. What’s more, many teachers recognize the need to teach nonfiction reading skills, rather than simply assign nonfiction reading, even as late as middle school and high school. Students cannot be successful in school without being able to read nonfiction well, and they cannot read nonfiction well without learning strategies to do it.
Check out the Twitter feed of the @TCRWP, and you’ll see scores of Tweets brimming with enthusiasm, learning, and energy from participants of The Reading and Writing Project’s annual June Reading Institute, going on this week. These Tweets include snippets of wisdom from workshop leaders, featured speakers, fellow participants, and of course, from Lucy Calkins herself. (Some of the most tweeted lines from Lucy’s Monday keynote include: “Reading is no longer reading if you try to control my mind while I do it” and, "We continue to inadvertently chase students away from reading. Don't make reading so elite and pure that humanity is forgotten.”)