Reading and Writing Workshop Controversy

Man, I am all about the controversy today!

Over at Two Writing Teachers, Stacy pointed me in the direction of this article from Education Next. As a proponent of Lucy Calkins’ Reading and Writing Workshop approach, I was slightly offended by the article’s tone. While I do agree, slightly, that TCRWP has become more scripted over the past decade, I think it is something that was bound to happen when 10,000 educators in one city become bound to the program. However, I use a lot of my TCRWP experience in my own classroom. I think because I teach 6th grade, I avoid a lot of the problems some people have with the program (ie. phonics vs. whole language, etc). I see the difference in my room. Most notably? My students are reading. And reading constantly. Voraciously. Passionately. And critically! I mix Calkins’ methods with Nancie Atwell’s in my reading and writing workshops.

After reading the aforementioned article, I googled for some more Lucy Calkins news. The first site returned was this article from National Review Online. It concerns controversy in NYC schools over TCRWP Reading Workshop.

This article angered me. My library does not consist of trash. I have classics, Newbery winners, Printz winners, and new novels on the best seller list. Name me one adult who reads classical, canon literature all the time. I can list on one hand the adults I know who read, period! I want my students to love reading. If that means sometimes they are reading the middle school equivalent of chick-lit, then so be it. Over the course of the school year, my students will read at least 30 books each, from a variety of genres. Some books are destined to be classics, some already are, and some never will be. Does that make them less of a reader?

What do you think?

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6 Responses

  1. The National Review article, which is completely aggravating, cites Barbara Feinberg of that Lizard Motel book from a while back. I completely agree about the hypocrisy of adults reading whatever the latest best seller is bemoaning the loss of “children’s classics”, many which were originally written for adults, and not many written for teens. AAARGH. Large pet peeve.

  2. Exactly! Other than Oprah’s Book Club, I don’t think I can name a single book published before 1990 that adults are reading.

    I completely agree, regarding YA. I don’t think many adults realize that until the last decade or so, middle grade and teen lit was almost non-existant!

  3. what do you expect from the national review? its a right wing proganda machine.

  4. Did anyone notice that the author of the “article” is the director of The American Textbook Council? Propaganda indeed!

  5. Typical right winged rhetoric. I pity such narrow minded people like this. Thank goodness this author wouldn’t last more than 10 minutes in a REAL classroom with an outlook like this! :-)

  6. I am a teacher (and a right wing conservative at that) who happens to have used the Calkins’ writing workshop in my classroom for 4 years.
    I really LOVE the methodology and concept of her approach. At the same time, I agree that it’s gotten a bit too “scripted.”
    But of course, as any teacher SHOULD, I took the approach and put my stamp on it. I took the “today and everyday” phrase and made my own version. So I think people need to just “eat the meat and spit out the bones” when it comes to any teaching methodology. Not a doubt in my mind, her methods improved my teaching AND my students independence and learning as a result.

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