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LES teachers engage in professional development

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Teachers from Liberty Elementary School became students for the day during the 89th Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP) Saturday Reunion on Oct. 17 in New York.

These free-to-all, twice-a-year Saturday Reunions take place at Teachers College and includes dozens of open one-hour workshops which support literacy education for grades K-8 as well as keynotes and closings given by popular authors of children’s and professional literature,” said Victoria Curry, Assistant Principal for Liberty Elementary School.

Thirteen teachers and administrators attended the workshop as a way to gain insight on the most effective ways to help students become stronger readers, writers and speakers and came back bursting with new knowledge to share.

The Oct. 17 reunion featured several major speakers, including:
- Mo Willems, a former Emmy-award writer and animator on Sesame Street, and author of the widely beloved Elephant and Piggie books and Pigeon series; and

- Lucy Calkins, the Founding Director of the TCRWP, and author of the best-selling grade-by-grade Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Grades K-5 and Units of Study in Opinion/Argument, Information, and Narrative Writing, Grades K-8 series, which are quickly becoming an essential part of classroom life in thousands of schools around the world.

“Our teachers are committed to growing their skills so we can continue to increase student achievement,” Mrs. Curry said. “The day provided numerous opportunities to hear from literary luminaries and engaging presenters, and talk with like-minded teachers from across the country.”

Teachers took advantage of the seminars and workshops to learn, reflect and collaborate with their colleagues. They were able to choose workshops for their grade level or subject interest.

For example, early elementary teachers could attend workshops on supporting and strengthening early childhood reading skills, while others attended workshops about narratives, close reading and text interpretation.

“Days like this help both students and teachers,” said Ashley Mangabang, a second grade teacher at Liberty Elementary School. “We are all actively seeking new ways to meet our students’ needs in the classroom. I learned some valuable teaching tools and strategies to use in reading and writing.”

In preparing for the 2015-16 school year, teachers and administrators collectively re-examined and fine-tuned the schools’ units of study in writing and started to think about how the structure of reading lessons could be improved.

“We felt that attending Saturday Reunion would be a good way to deepens our understanding and raise our knowledge in our quest to improve language arts instruction for all students,” Tamika Terry, a fourth-grade teacher said. “I wrote down so many notes and ideas for the classroom and I plan on introducing them all slowly to my students’ routines.”

Jodi Lieberman, a writing teacher at Liberty Elementary, agreed: “We want to do what’s best for our students. We want to put them on a strong footing and make sure that we can give them what they need to know, which is why we’ve put a strong focus on encouraging students to read series books.”

Reading books from a series can improve reading comprehension because it improves stamina and develops a love of reading through character and plot connection, she said.

Saturday Reunions are free and open to everyone – parents included. Parents and educators are encouraged to stay up to date with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project by visiting their website or following them on Twitter. Every Wednesday, TCRWP hosts Twitter Chats from 7:30-8:30 p.m.; topics range on a variety of subjects, from independent writing tips and tricks to book reviews.

About the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project
The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project was founded and is directed by Lucy Calkins, The Robinson Professor of Children’s Literature at Teachers College. Lucy Calkins is the author of books that are in an estimated 65 percent of American K-5 classrooms. These books include "The Art of Teaching Writing", "The Art of Teaching Reading", and several Units of Study in Reading and Writing series, including the new "Units of Study in Opinion, Information and Narrative Writing: A Common Core Curriculum" which will be released in March 2013. She is also co-author of "Pathways to the Common Core", the best-selling book on that topic. Books by current and former staff members and mentor teachers are foundational to reading and writing workshop instruction.

Pictured: Victoria Curry, Dawn Schwarzenegger, Leanne Mangabang, Alyssa Cinque, Tamika Terry, Analey Dietrich, Tracy Kline, Wendy Schwalb, Alicia Houghtaling, Ashley Mangabang, and Cynthia FarrandMissing: Jodi Lieberman and Kaitlyn Melcher

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