Ah-Ha Moment (#TCRWP)

In the spirit of Kylene and Bob’s signposts and the way they advocate that, as readers, we watch for our own experience of the signposts as much as we notice when authors give these experiences to their characters, I move beyond page vi in A Guide to the Reading Workshop in TCRWP’s Primary Reading UoS. (If you’d like to start at the beginning of my Adventures in UoS, click here)


“We sometimes convince ourselves that the subject [of reading] is so important that we outsource it to large for-profit companies that don’t know us and don’t know our kids.” (p. 2)

We do?  Yeah, I can picture the closets full of boxes that have long-since been abandoned for the next best “thing-in-a-box.”

“Most of the money that has been spent over the past decade to improve the teaching of reading has been spent on large commercial reading programs that aim to teacher-proof reading instruction.  What’s needed is exactly the opposite” (p. 5).

Yes!  So what makes this reading program different, I keep wondering.  Because these units did cost a chunk of change.  What makes this packaged material different than the rest of the clutter in the closet?


Because Lucy’s talking about her units like they are the anti-“thing in a box” reading program.  And if that is what they truly are, then what am I missing? Why don’t I see it?

Perhaps it’s been under my feet this whole time: It just took coffee with a trusted colleague to help me realize that what we are embarking upon is not “Units of Study.”

It’s not?

No. We are not setting out to do “Lucy Calkins.”

We aren’t?

No.  We are, in fact, using these resources to implement READING WORKSHOP and “the reading workshop offers an alternative [to other programs], which emphasizes providing students with the conditions that are supported by reading research (not by market research)” (p. 6).


I envision experts from the Teachers’ College banging their heads on the wall or the table, frustrated that they can’t be in every school in the country, helping to shift practice toward workshop. And, in my vision, as part of these brainstorming sessions, they design the units as a way of providing the best approximation for their side-by-side immersive professional development as they can (p. 11).

This begins to seem not-so-commercial and, instead, reminds me of work I’ve found myself trying to figure out: How do we scale professional development beyond the walls of a single classroom or school, beyond the borders of our area and even our district? This investment–theirs and ours–is truly one of growth and learning.

And the ah-ha’s don’t stop there: As I dig deeper into the materials, I realize that the lessons are not scripts, but rather TRANscripts. They are not intended to be read verbatim and delivered by teachers whose experience and expertise matter less.  Instead, they are exactly what I would create ahead of an observation or professional development I was planning: a record of a process or experience that we wish we could all observe and discuss as we plan for our own (page 11).

The lessons are intended to capture the experience of teachers who have tried them on and worked to make them the best they can be for teachers who will try them on, not in the hopes of creating actors, but of building habits

My ah-ha becomes a great sigh of relief – aaaaahhhhh.

Because this isn’t Kansas, and this isn’t UoS.

It’s not?

No.  It’s not even Lucy Calkins.


No. This is workshop.


Yeah. This is a yellow brick road I can follow.

TCRWP DraftAs we begin the 2017-2018 school year, I will capture my experiences in implementing TCRWP’s Reading Units of Study.  This is the third in a series of posts that you can follow simply by using the TCRWP category on the screen as your filter. If you’d like to begin at the start of my Adventure in UoS, click here.

The Ah-Ha Moment as a signpost for our reading and thinking comes from the work of Kylene Beers and Bob Probst’s Notice and Note and Disrupting Thinking.



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