Letter from a Principal
The more we spread it out the more powerful the impact of your Units of Study. And we had quite an impact last year.
Our ELA scores went up 10 points schoolwide. Our 4th grade had 94-percent of students passing the test. Yahoo, Yahoo.
RWP for all is my mantra now.
—Sara Shenkan-Rich, Principal Sherman School, San Francisco
The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project is a research and staff development organization housed at Teachers College, Columbia University. The Project's ideas are foundational to literacy instruction across the globe. The organization has a deep and long lasting affiliation with over six hundred schools, and works in less intimate ways with thousands of others. Reading and Writing Project, LLC was established a decade ago in an effort to extend the reach of the parent organization.
The mission of the Reading and Writing Project is to help young people become avid and skilled readers, writers, and inquirers. We accomplish this goal through research, curriculum development, and through working shoulder-to-shoulder with students, teachers, principals and superintendents. The organization has developed state-of-the-art tools and methods for teaching of reading and writing, for using performance assessments and learning progressions to accelerate progress, and for literacy-rich content-area instruction. Thousands of teachers regard the Reading and Writing Project as a continual source of professional renewal and education. Well over 150,000 teachers have attended our week-long institutes, and over 4,000 participants return each year to annual Saturday Reunions.
The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project was founded and is directed by Lucy Calkins, The Robinson Professor of Children’s Literature at Teachers College. Lucy Calkins is the author of books that are in an estimated 65% of American K-5 classrooms. These books include The Art of Teaching Writing, The Art of Teaching Reading, and several Units of Study in Reading and Writing series, including the new Units of Study in Opinion, Information and Narrative Writing: A Common Core Curriculum which will be released in March 2013. She is also co-author of Pathways to the Common Core, the best-selling book on that topic. Books by current and former staff members and mentor teachers are foundational to reading and writing workshop instruction.
The Project functions both as a think tank and a community of practice. Every Thursday for thirty years, all the staff developers and leaders have devoted the entire day to participating in an intense, collaborative think-tank. Because the RWP and the TCRWP place high value on maintaining long-term and close affiliations with schools and districts, this means that we, like our schools, have learned to adapt to new pressures and challenges. The organization is deeply involved with helping schools deal with new pressures while still holding tight to a commitment to joyous, lifelong literacy. Calls for data-based instruction, differentiation, accountability, systematic instruction, standards and the like have strengthened rather than thwarted the organization’s vision.
The trajectory of this learning community is strengthened by close links to national literacy leaders and school reform experts, over 30 of whom join us each year. Recently we (and the teachers with whom we work) have learned from Peter Johnston, Dick Allington, Tim Rasinski, Maurice Sykes, Doug Reeves, Kylene Beers, Stephanie Harvey, Ellin Keene, Mike Fullan, James Comer, Katherine Bomer, Brenda Parkes, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Tony Wagner, Diane Ravitch, and Alfred Tatum. New York City’s location at the publishing capital of the world allows us to bring children’s authors to Teachers College. During recent years, visiting children’s authors include Katherine Paterson, Kate DiCamillo, James Howe, Pam Muñoz Ryan, Avi, Walter Dean Meyers, Jon Scieszka and others.
If one defining feature of the Reading and Writing Project is that it is designed to be a learning community, another is that the boundary around the Project is permeable. There is no gatekeeper to this learning community—any individual and any school wishing to “be a member” is one. Teachers who learn from and with the RWP and the TCRWP often regard this affiliation as integral to their professional identity, and schools, too, see the affiliation as one that defines their character. Members are contributors as well as learners. The community is exponentially enriched because many of the teachers, principals, scholars and superintendents who have maintained a deep involvement give back in a reciprocal fashion. Scores of our schools regularly host visitors, for example, and participants share through Facebook, email, and above all, through sustained relationships with each other. Teachers from across the world recently joined together to contribute $70,000 schools that were hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. This network is what the Project is all about.
If you would like to apply for staff development services, please refer to Professional Development Services. You needn’t wait, however, before tapping into the resources on this website and in our many publications.