Woodland Heights Where students soar to new heights!

Lucy Calkins - Why we're moving in the right direction

GI-Joe, from Boosterthon, celebrates with 5th grade students after they won the daily challenge. Boosterthon provides week-long character building activities and helps us raise money for our PTO.

I loved being an English teacher. As a middle school teacher, I was able to channel my love of reading and writing into my lessons that I taught each day. I love watching our teachers engage our students in reading and writing each day. It takes a long time to get good at it!

My transition to the elementary level has opened my eyes to a number of needs that our school has in regards to curriculum and structure of our lessons. Much of what we have focused on in our classrooms comes from our teachers sharing their good ideas and lessons, but there hasn't been a uniform process to engage ALL of our students in their reading and writing. When we are all not using the same language, the same tools, and the same expectations it's difficult to assist our students as they learn and grow.

Most would agree that reading and writing go hand in hand. As we have seen since we have started assessing our students in reading, typically our students in Kindergarten and first grade hit a wall when they get to level F, until they can transcribe their ideas and connections to their reading. Students begin to struggle when the assessment challenges them to describe what happened in the story they read - in writing. What we see in our classrooms is students who may be able to read at a higher level cannot move on to another level due to having difficulty with the writing process.

Lucy Calkins Units of Study will provide the alignment and classroom instruction that we need not only to move our students ahead, but to assist them in building their reading and writing capabilities. Though our proficiency ranks at the top of our school system, we have had minimal success in growing our students to their true potential. I don't think that it's the fault of our teachers, because we are seeing tremendous things each day in our classrooms. But by aligning ourselves as a school and providing consistent dialogue with our students, we will have a new understanding of the dynamic of teaching reading and writing together.

Similar to our math experiences, we have been planning for this. Our teachers have used small group settings to engage students in rich discussions about reading and writing. These new Lucy Calkins Units of Study will assist our teachers in providing quality lessons while giving them time to plan for enrichment activities. These will be essential to our foundational teaching and set our students apart from their peers in other schools.

Along with these Units of Study, our staff will have a four-day professional development experience unlike any other! The Teacher's College from New York City and the creators of the Units of Study, will be working with our teachers to assist them in using this program over the summer. Many schools who attempt to use this program do not get the training in this way and instead hope to have a staff member do their best in training others. We are arming our teachers with the tools and confidence to make Lucy Calkins Units of Study program successful at Woodland Heights.

We appreciate your support during our Boosterthon Fundraiser. Our students have been having a blast, while raising money for our PTO. Thank you so much for choosing our school and allowing us to teach your children. We hope that you can see the growth that is happening in our classrooms, and we know that as we continue down this journey of new instruction you will see our teachers continue to push your child in their learning and to new heights!

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Created By
Jacob Boula
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