Room 209, on the second floor of Katonah Elementary School (KES), seems silent until you listen carefully. Underlying the swish-swish of the louvered window shades and the intermittent tinkling of wind chimes is the soft, steady sound of pencils writing on paper.
One student is busy recounting her first bake sale. Another is engrossed in describing the last time she saw her goldfish. The one writing the fastest is chronicling the time his dad let him drive the car.
This is the daily writers workshop in Ms. Wolken’s fifth grade, a protected time that emphasizes a high volume of writing to achieve greater proficiency.
“Writers need to build up stamina, just like readers,” said Ms. Wolken.
Daily writing time is one of the cornerstones of the Teachers College Reading & Writing Project (TCRWP), the landmark literacy program that KLSD elementary schools are continuing to partner with for the second year.
“The elementary schools teach three types of writing: narrative, informational, and opinion,” said Cristy Harris, Principal of KES. “All elementary school students have started the unit on narrative writing - crafting true stories. Even the kindergarteners participate in writer's workshops. They draw their stories.”
KLSD’s elementary school teachers received professional development from TCRWP over the course of last year on teaching strategies for planning, drafting, and revising different types of text.
Increase Miller Elementary, Katonah Elementary, and Meadow Pond Elementary Schools are also Teachers College Project Schools. Each grade will have five visits from a Teachers College Staff Developer who will lead a writing lesson as teachers grouped by grade level observe as well as participate. This is followed by conversation about various strategies and instructional approaches.