Thursday, August 14, 2014


Last week I had the most amazing experience attending the Teacher's College Writing Project  professional development at Columbia University. I never claimed to be good at teaching writing but this made me feel at ease and made me feel like maybe just maybe I could do this. 

In my district we use th Writers Workshop model based on Lucy Caulkins. I don't know if you are aware of it, but many of us in my specific school felt it was becoming cult like. People swore by the process, swore the steps worked, loved everything Lucy said about everything and thought she was the only one on the subject. For awhile I did too but then I became frustrated and began to doubt everything that was being said and offered. I was given the opportunity by my principal to go to this week long workshop paid for by the district. I jumped on it because ultimately I wanted to believe again in it. I am so glad I did!

The whole week impressed me. There was a lady Colleen who led a large group discussion every morning about the teaching and the methods of the writing workshop, we had a small group leader named Mike who put us in the role of the student while he taught it and conferenced with us. The afternoons were filled with choices of mini presentations about various topics related to writing and we ended each day with a famous author key note. One day it was Kate Riberts who coauthored "Falling in Love With Close Reading." Another day it was an author by the name of Lester Lehman ( I believe I spelt that right) One of the days it was Seymour Simon and he even had a book signing earlier that day and I have never been so excited to have my books signed. 

There were some amazing ah hah moments as well. For instance with conferencing, I did not realize how structured it would be with giving real genuine positive comments wrapped with a teaching point to refocus their writing. I also had always put the revise/edit step together in the process and I realize now how important those two are separately. A big moment for me was when they discussed spelling. It bothers me so about my districts spelling curriculum (or lack there of) Colleen mentioned how important it it to not expect the partner edits to catch those because they do not know them themselves as well as various grammar strategies especially if they were never taught it at a younger level. 

I know that this may seem silly but for me that past week was extremely eye openning and beneficial. Have you ever had a professional development do so much for you? What kind was it? 

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