Turning Readers into Writers at TKS
When 2nd grader Hattie is asked to write about dogs, her eyes light up as she grabs a pen and paper. Hattie is eager to show off everything she’s recently learned about dogs, because her teacher has recognized Hattie’s passion for everything canine and has guided her curiosity by allowing Hattie to pursue her individual interests, wherever that may take her. In less than an hour, Hattie has written and beautifully illustrated a page-long essay titled “What is a Dog” which begins “Roof! That is the sound a dog makes.”
"As parents, we are thrilled with the writing program at The Kessler School. The program allows Hattie to write on topics they’re passionate about, as opposed to generic, bland topics that are assigned to everyone in the class. For example, Hattie has a passion for dogs and she is always encouraged to explore this further through writing!"
At the Kessler School, we strive to help our students develop the skills they’ll need to experience academic and future success. Our guiding philosophy is create a unique, individualized learning experience for each of our students, customized to meet their needs. By meeting our students where they are at, and tapping into their interests, we are nurturing their intellectual curiosity and inspiring them to look at every new challenge as an opportunity to grow.
Underpinning our literary arts curriculum is the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project (TCRWP), developed by Columbia University. TCRWP is a research-based, joyful and culturally responsive program specifically designed to help students learn at their own pace by allowing them the opportunity to explore their own interests. “At a fundamental level,” they explain, “our’s is paradigm where choice matters, where agency matters.
In fact, the emphasis on student agency is why our parents are continually sharing with us how the program has made a meaningful difference in their student’s educational experience.
“Hattie has excelled at reading and writing in The Kessler School, and I think this is largely because the curriculum is designed to pace with each individual student rather than the entire class. This individualized approach makes writing more enjoyable and less stressful, and I am thrilled that Hattie has found a love of writing!"
Through the Reading and Writing Project, our Kessler School students become avid and skilled readers, writers, and inquirers. That’s because the curriculum allows us to curate classroom libraries that fit can each student’s individual reading level and areas of interest.
“My classroom library is an invaluable resource in helping my students feel engaged as readers and writers,” says Ms. Booher. “But more than that, when my students feel like the experience of reading and writing is something that “belongs” to them, they can use that to become a fully invested partner in their own education.”
But more than that, as our students learn the mechanics of reading and writing, they’re also growing their passion for writing as an effective outlet for self-expression. Isabella, one our 8th graders, was excited to share with us one of her recent works, “I am a Writer.” In it, she writes:
With Poetry I can discover the purpose of how I’m feeling by reading it. Word by word I find new scenarios and stories that I want to make on my own and grow a forest of words that mean something to me. People, their names, personality, looks. Everyone seems like an open book. They give me inspiration for a story with unique characters that I have a passion for. My own life is a story. I can write and elaborate more on my experiences and make my imagination roam free. Storing my mind with ideas even more than before. Mostly everyone has the ability to do such things like these. But I choose to write it down.
When our Kessler students grow as readers and writers, they are able to develop thoughtful, organized arguments, draw on comprehension strategies, use research skills to explore pressing issues, critically engage with texts, and expand their vocabulary to better communicate their ideas with those around them. All of these skills are necessary for them to grow up to become the next generation of world-changers and community leaders.
"My daughter has fallen in love with writing through The Kessler School's program. Being able to write well and to communicate effectively are skills that I know will benefit Isabella for the rest of her life. Isabella is never intimidated by writing assignments, which also made after-school homework sessions much easier, for all of us!"
Like the Readers and Writers Project, the Kessler School places a premium on creating individualized student learning experiences. We strongly believe that a student-led program allows for for teaching which is more responsive and more engaging for teachers and kids alike.
When you support our Annual Fund, you are helping us adopt and continually update programs like the TCRWP, in order to better meet the needs of our student now, as we equip them with the skills they will need for future success. During this season of giving, we invite you to consider supporting our Annual Fund by becoming a 1999 member. Give the gift of a love of learning to our students this holiday season!
I am a Writer
by Isabella Dominguez (8th Grade)
I am a writer
I write down what comes to mind to help me stop myself from what people call unhealthy thoughts
My feelings show every time I brainstorm, thinking of ways to forget about what I think.
Dread, happiness, confusion, comfort.
I let my mind go blank and my hands lead the way on my piece of paper
Negative thoughts, positive thoughts. ‘Can’t help overthink stuff that happened’ thoughts.
And when I just can’t describe this unknown feeling in my chest
I find inspiration in everything and what my brain requests
TV shows, books, poetry, school, and even people.
They help me clear up what I’m feeling, thinking, seeing.
And it helps me break free
With Poetry I can discover the purpose of how I’m feeling by reading it. Word by word I find new scenarios and stories that I want to make on my own and grow a forest of words that mean something to me.
People, their names, personality, looks.
Everyone seems like an open book
They give me inspiration for a story with unique characters that I have a passion for.
My own life is a story. I can write and elaborate more on my experiences and make my imagination roam free. Storing my mind with ideas even more than before.
Mostly everyone has the ability to do such things like these.
But I choose to write it down.
Like all my words begging to drown
Onto the piece of paper.
I am a writer.