Lucy Calkins – Straight From the Teacher’s Voice


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NHASCD had the pleasure of hosting Lucy Calkins, one of education’s leading voices on literacy and the Common Core, on January 10 in Concord, New Hampshire. In fact, we had our largest gathering of participants in our organization’s history, with over 450 educators in attendance.

As part of registration, we also gave out a copy of her book Pathways to the Common Core, which landed at number 7 on the New York Times Best-Selling Education Books of 2013.

Here are some relatively cryptic notes from the event.

General thoughts:

  • Due to the rise of the Internet, overall knowledge has risen exponentially. 
  • Writing has the power to change the way people think, due to the ability to publish so easily. 
  • Schools that used basel programs through the years showed flat academic progress. 
  • Private companies are taking over much of education. 

Common Core

  • Cost can be a problem if the CCSS assessments take too much money from other instructional needs. 
  • The problem is not the standards themselves. The problem is the way CCSS is being implemented. 
  • It’s important that educators maintain a healthy optimism.
  • CCSS is asking for greater comprehension and deeper meaning. 
    • We can’t do it alone. We need to have a coordinated approach to literacy-text complexity matters. Reading is about assessing children in their reading and moving them up in terms of text complexity. 
  • Reading will be assessed by writing. 
  • Michael Fullan says that the problem with education is the fragmentation of too many innovations that are uncoordinated with ongoing work. Only innovations that have high fidelity lead to academic achievement. 



  • Close reading: teachers have to spend more time on text. While there has to be balance here, it is no longer sufficient for students to simply give their impression of how the story “makes them feel” or how they are connected to the text. Students have to engage in close reading in order to comprehend the text itself. This video from Lucy’s Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project is a nice elementary view of this. 
  • The number of minutes that children actually read is quite important. 


  • Curriculum dilemma…What’s the promise that we make to kids regarding writing? Other areas (such as math) are more curriculum centered. 
  • Writing…
    • should be a separate subject
    • should be taught explicitly
    • should have expectations for volume
    • is full of genres such as Narratives (personal realistic fiction, science fiction, narrative memoir), Informational (Fact sheets, brochures, reports, lab reports, research projects), Opinion (persuasive letters, speeches, petitions, editorials, personal essays, debate, argument). 
    • is so important that writers must have an audience-be sure we celebrate and publish writing. 


Feedback on Lucy and her work? Please comment. 

2 comments Add yours
  1. Thanks, Bill, for posting these highlights from the Jan. 10th NHASCD conference with presenter Lucy Calkins. What a fantastic day of rich learning!

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