Readers and Writers Workshop is a a structured programme that methodically and strategically teaches students to read and write in a critical way.Researched and developed by the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University, the programme was adopted by UWCSEA in 2011 as a core method of teaching reading and writing in the Primary School. Since then, the College has been able to run a number of tailored professional development programmes for our staff, run by specialists from Colombia University. As well as running workshops, the visiting experts spent time in classrooms, working with teachers to tailor a programme to effectively meet the needs of our students.
Studying reading development research and applying it in our K to Grade 5 classes has seen inspiring results, with students displaying increased engagement with texts; a skill that transfers directly across the entire curriculum and directly enhances a students ability to engage completely with the academic element of the learning programme. Given the success of the programme, Workshop (as we now call it!) has since been expanded into Middle School to provide consistency of practice and ensure students continue to receive the support to further their reading and writing interests and skills.
Wendy Jones, Literacy Coach in the UWCSEA Dover Primary School explains why Readers and Writers Workshop has had such a transformational effect, "When you walk into our primary classrooms today you can feel an excitement around literacy. Our students now write with a passion..., and we observe spirited discussions about current book choices and favourite characters our authors."
All teachers on the programme also reported increased knowledge and confidence in practicing the many components of the Reading Workshop. Lab-sites and group discussions also afforded many opportunities to explore new ideas collaboratively with the support of Literacy Coaches on both campuses.
“We recognise that developing our skills as literacy teachers is an ongoing process. Strategic professional development opportunities and support from Literacy Coaches will continue to ensure that teachers are reflecting on and expanding their craft. We look forward to seeing the lasting impact for our students as they thrive as readers and writers within the Workshop model,” said Deborah Cook, then Vice Principal (Curriculum) in the UWCSEA Dover Primary School about the workshops held in the 2012/2013 academic year.
The implementation of Reading Workshop was one of 21 projects funded by generous gifts to the 2012/2013 UWCSEA Foundation Annual Fund. These donations enable UWCSEA to develop a margin of excellence as a leader in international education.