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 mission of the Teachers College 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, and school leaders. The organization has developed state-of-the-art tools and methods for teaching 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 Teachers College Reading and Writing Project as a continual source of professional renewal and education. Well over 170,000 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 is the author or co-author of over two score of books, including Pathways to the Common Core (with Ehrenworth and Lehman) which was recently listed as #8 in the New York Times list of best-selling education books. She has also authored/co-authored The Art of Teaching Writing, The Art of Teaching Reading, a series of books titled Units of Study in Reading and the recently released Units of Study in Opinion/Argument, Information and Narrative Writing: A K-8 Common Core Curriculum. These books, as well as those by current and former staff members and TCRWP teachers, create a portfolio of texts which is foundational to reading and writing workshop instruction across the globe.
The TCRWP functions both as a think tank and a community of practice. Every Thursday for thirty years, the staff developers and leaders devote the entire day to participating in an intense, collaborative think-tank. Meanwhile lead teachers participate in many think tanks that last across years and contribute in important ways to the organization's knowledge base. Because the TCRWP places high value on maintaining long-term and close affiliations with schools and districts, this means that the organization, like its schools, is continually adapting to new pressures and challenges while holding tight to a longstanding commitment to joyous, purposeful, lifelong literacy. The result is that the TCRWP is deeply engaged in finding reasonable (and sometimes state-of-the-art) solutions to calls for more data-based, standards-based instruction and more alignment with teacher-effectiveness frameworks.
The trajectory of this learning community is strengthened by close links to national literacy leaders and school reform experts, over 20 of whom work on site with us each year. Recently we (and the teachers with whom we work) have learned from Peter Johnston, Dick Allington, Tim Rasinski, Tony Wagner, Kylene Beers, Yvonne Rodriquez, Stephanie Harvey, Ellin Keene, Michael Fullan, James Comer, Katherine Bomer, Heidi Hayes Jacobs, 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.
The boundary around the learning community that constitutes TCRWP is permeable. There is no gatekeeper—any individual and any school wishing to "be a member" is one. Teachers who learn from and with 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. Project schools regularly host visitors, for example, and participants share through Facebook, email, Twitter, and above all, through sustained relationships with each other. Teachers from across the world recently joined together to contribute almost $100,000 to 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.