An article published this past summer in Education Next came across my desk today. “The Lucy Calkins project: parsing a self-proclaimed literacy guru” disturbed me for two reasons:
1. Lucy was my professor for four courses when I was a graduate student at Teachers College. She taught me how to be a better teacher of reading and writing. I admire her because I learned so much from her.
2. There’s a deep insinuation that Calkins’ methods are not proven to be solid by independent research companies.
In her article Barbara Feinberg writes, “Calkins is shaping the education of millions of children, yet no independent research backs the efficacy of her programs. Aside from grumblings from the New York City teachers required to work under her system, there has been remarkably little open debate about the basic premises behind Calkins’s approach, or even feedback on how the programs are faring in the classroom.”
I think anyone who doesn’t believe the Workshop Model, which Lucy has pushed for so many years, is working should come into a Workshop classroom and really take a good look around. They will find children who are engaged in their reading. They will find students having extremely literate discussions. Furthermore, in a Writing Workshop, they will find children who truly believe they have something to say that matters. Furthermore, those same kids, who will identify themselves as writers, will be sharing their writing with their peers who will give them constructive feedback on what they did well as a writer and what they should work on.
This article about Lucy got me pretty fired-up for the two reasons I mentioned above.
Joel Klein, the NYC Schools Chancellor, hired the TCRWP to come in and implement the Workshop Model around the City of New York so that all kids could have equal access, regardless of where they went to school, with rich literate experiences. This happened and the entire City uses the T.C. Model when teaching literacy. What better endorsement can one get than to have their program implemented in every NYC Public School?!!?
Literacy Consultant. Author. Former 4th and 5th Grade Classroom Teacher.