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Katonah-Lewisboro continues to build capacity and cohesiveness in the core areas of the curriculum. Initiatives that make class time more engaging and effective are actively identified and nurtured through the efforts of building and district leadership, strong curriculum, and talented teachers. One such initiative is the work with Teachers College Reading & Writing Project (TCRWP) —a research-based literacy initiative that has been in place in our elementary schools since 2016.
“Collaboration with a staff developer from TCRWP has just begun at John Jay Middle School,” said Mary Ford, assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction. Coordinated by Assistant Principal Monica Bermiss and Instructional Leader Mark Grossman, middle school teachers of English Language Arts and and Staff Developer Catherine Graybosch will meet with a TCRWP practitioner this coming year for in-class mentoring and coaching sessions.
“Strong professional learning experiences are job-embedded, relevant, collaborative, and sustained over time," said Ford. "This model embodies these characteristics and gives us access to some of the latest work in the field.
“Students learn what they practice,” said Sonja Cherry-Paul, staff developer with Teachers College Reading & Writing Project. “They learn as we facilitate and provide opportunity for practice.”
Cherry-Paul was speaking with a group of sixth grade classroom teachers and district staff developers in a quiet conference room.
“Let's talk about how we can get better at facilitating this type of work and giving students time to practice, practice, practice.”
Teachers spoke frankly about the struggle to help some students notice literary elements or carry a thought through an essay. Cherry-Paul noted the predictable nature of most writing problems and the ways a teacher’s toolkit—a notebook full of ready-to-go strategies—could help. “Your toolkit anticipates how students stumble and prepares you to do something about it.”
The teachers and Cherry-Paul walked down the hall to Mark Grossman’s English Language Arts class. Students were sitting at tables working on essays that analyzed the theme of a short story. Each had already identified a theme. Now, in their notebooks, students were crafting ways of explaining how their chosen textual evidence conveyed the theme.
“Watch me pull a small group,” directed Cherry-Paul. “Look for how I jump in to where they are, how I use post-its and directed questions, and when I pull a student into a conference. Then you do it.”