Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by DrivingPigeon, Jun 16, 2014.
Jun 16, 2014
Love it? Hate it? Tips?
I'm piloting the program next year. I just got my materials today.
K-2 is better than 3-5, so be thankful you teach 2nd.
I've used the program since I student taught in 2005-2006. Every school I've been in has used it.
Personally, I hate it. I hate the set up, I hate the annoying lessons, I pretty much hate everything about it. However, it does work if implemented correctly. Some schools I've been in implement it correctly and their writing is great. Other don't and they don't see results. To work best, it really needs to be school wide so the language and style is repetitive.
We're also piloting it next year. My first school used it. I wasn't a classroom teacher so I'm not sure if this is a fault of the program or how it was taught, but our kids were horrible in writing conventions. They were encouraged to write "rough drafts" (I think they were called something else, but I don't remember) with no capitalization, punctuation, correct spelling, spacing, word order, etc. The idea was that they were to "get their ideas out" and they would finally fix the mistakes in the final stage of the writing process. They would write numerous "drafts" of the story before finally using correct conventions in the very last draft. IMO, that causes kids to practice writing incorrectly, and then they never learn how to write correctly. Kids in 5th and 6th grades still were not independently using basic conventions like capitalization and punctuation correctly. The lessons seemed to focus all on the content of the writing. I remember them doing some giant lesson in Kindergarten on "exploding the moment" in a story. I'm sorry, but you can "explode the moment" when you know how to write a coherent sentence. I taught conventions heavily in my sped writing classes (and made students write with correct conventions no matter what subject we were writing in) and my students passed the state writing test at a higher rate than their gen ed peers.
I student-taught at a school that used it, but as far as I could tell, "using" it just meant having the books on a shelf and teaching however you wanted. I heard good opinions on it from my CT but don't know if the teacher ever actually followed the curriculum.
Thanks for the replies. It's good to hear the pros and cons.
Even though I'm "piloting" it, my district is 100% going to adopt it during the 2015-2016 school year. I'm on a team of 3 teachers that are in charge of using it this coming year, and then deciding next summer how we want to implement it district-wide.
Waterfall, I agree with you that the fundamentals and conventions are really important. When we received the materials today, that was one of the big questions we had (if convention lessons were included).
Oh, how could I have forgotten to mention my most hated part of the program?! LC doesn't teach conventions. I think it is mentioned briefly in maybe one lesson or so. (While I have been in schools that use it, I tend to avoid most of it like the plague. Luckily I've had the freedom. So I'm a little rusty with it. In my current position I will no longer have that freedom.)
In 5th, I had to dig out our ancient English books and do a few lessons a week. I also bought a few reproducable books with worksheets for practicing grammar and convention skills.
In my student teaching placement, the students all excelled in it. Their writing was absolutely amazing. This was an upper middle class neighborhood, and the students were strong in all academic areas.
If you Google Lucy Calkins & NYC, however, you will read that the Dept of Ed in NYC got rid of the program in its schools. They were big on TC & Lucy for years & a lot of the NYC schools had implemented it. They found over the years that it wasn't really geared towards the diverse (culturally and economically) populations very well.
We piloted it this year & are fully implementing it this year. I've been to a few workshops with Lucy and I'm excited for what it offers, but am worried about how my students will respond to it.
I'm in a workshop school...we don't adopt packaged programs, but Columbia's Teachers College greatly influences, shapes and guides our instruction.
Jun 17, 2014
I taught it for the first time this year. It is a form of writer's workshop with more guided goals. There were negatives and positives.
Bitch and half to read-the people who wrote it made it as tedious and drawn out as they possibly could.
The conventions of writing seem to have been put on the back burner.
Wastes paper like there is a magic paper producing tree around.
Takes a long time to do.
The curriculum could have been published in 20 page booklets and it would be easier to understand.
Gets the students engaged and interested in writing.
I got long detailed stories without having to constantly remind them to add detail from about half my class, only one student do I feel did not move a long way in his/her writing.
The children liked the wide goals they are given.
Builds steps which help develop an understanding of how to go about writing different genres.
Jun 18, 2014
I love it. I think the problem people have is buying the program and trying to follow it like it is a curriculum map - it's not. It is a style of teaching and thinking that you use to respond to the needs of your class while moving through different styles of writing. As far as writing conventions, they should absolutely be taught throughout all of the units, repeatedly. You do encourage the kids to write, even if they don't know how to spell or write correctly, but you should be using that information to guide whole group lessons, small groups, or one on one conferences (depending on how many students have the same need).
Jun 19, 2014
Thanks for the input!
I'm really excited about it, because my district has never had anything for writing. Not even a curriculum map. I started reading the books a few days ago, and I'm really liking it so far. It's just such a relief knowing that we finally have something to follow, and we don't have to throw stuff together.
Plus, everyone in my district already does writer's workshop, but to different degrees. This will help us all be on the same page.
Jun 21, 2014
I'm going to be really frank.....I think it's fantastic...if I taught upper middle class white kids. I don't. I have always taught in schools that served lower-income populations who are linguistically diverse, racially segregated, and mostly unsupported at home. Lucy assumed a lot of basic skills that my students have never brought to the table. Because of this, I've had to supplement with a LOT of direct instruction and mini lessons for the mini lessons.
We didn´t have an actual writinger curriculum before either. We all just sort of did our own thing. We have adopted ¨Being a Writer¨ (I think that´s what it´s called) for next year so I am very excited about that.
Jun 22, 2014
Our school uses Literature Based Writing since we score student writing using analytical writing traits.
I love this program, since it works with any piece of literature I am using for reading. This means my reading/writing programs are completely integrated.
Just out of curiosity, do you directly teach grammar? I used to work in a workshop school, and am currently interviewing in the city, so it's interesting to see the TC take from the city perspective right now, ie which ones are using it still, who abandoned it, their feelings, etc.
To the OP: I really like a lot of the ideas that LC brings to the table, as well as some of the units. It isn't a traditional curriculum in the sense that she doesn't lay it all out there; one of the criticisms tends to be that a lot falls on the teachers in terms of planning and choosing how to implement the ideas. On one hand, it tends to be a lot of extra work that some people grumble about, but on the other it allows the freedom for you to pick your own mentor texts and have control over things/it's not scripted. The lack of direct instruction of the fundamentals/conventions is another major criticism, but some teachers chose to supplement that on their own.
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