To move a child to become a lifelong reader and writer takes commitment, passion, resources, and teamwork. The most powerful teams extend beyond the child and her classroom teacher to include other students, other teachers and administrators, and, not least, the child’s parents and caregivers. Certainly, in most cases, everyone on the team wants the child to succeed at reading and writing. But on the best teams, everyone shares an understanding of what success looks like and what it takes to get there.
Earlier this year, Lucy Calkins and colleagues released a new series aimed at supporting upper-grade students who are new to writing workshop. This series, Up the Ladder: Accessing Grades 3-6 Writing Units of Study is a powerful resource that leads to noticeable, rapid improvements in students’ work. The series contains three units, one each in narrative, opinion, and information writing. In each unit, students have the opportunity to experience the writing process repeatedly and to learn essential characteristics of each genre.
If you are new to teaching reading workshop, welcome! You are in for a wonderful experience, where you will watch your students flourish as readers as they read books of their choosing, at optimal reading levels, for long stretches of time, while receiving targeted instruction on specific skills. If you are a reading workshop veteran, you know there is always room to hone your craft, and each new school year brings an opportunity to launch your best reading workshop yet, as you bring the experiences of past years to bear on your teaching.
Few topics matter more in literacy instruction than providing access for all learners, regardless of their level, learning needs, or proficiency in English. One of the most important ways to address the needs of all learners is to choose a curriculum that is predictable and simple, yet flexible and customizable. Those who espouse workshop teaching know it is this: a curriculum that allows teachers to teach responsively every single day.
Above all, we want you to know that the Up the Ladder: Accessing Grades 3–6 Writing Units of Study series embodies the one mission that is closest to the hearts of all of us at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. For us, the most important word in the title of this series is this one: access. Nothing matters more than the mission of giving all young people access to the beautiful, important work that happens in reading and writing workshops.
– Lucy Calkins and the Co-Authors of the new Up the Ladder Units of Study
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.)