Writing a memoir may not be the task you imagine a Lower School student tackling during the school year, but here at Episcopal that is just what happens. Third graders (eight year olds) learn to express their own voice through written word – what an incredible accomplishment for someone so young! Last May our students concluded their writing lessons by sharing their works with parents and teachers at an Author Share event. (Click here to see photos and stories from this exciting day.) Now with the start of a new year the writing movement continues.
Episcopal educators Amy Arceneaux (3rd), Liz Crawford (4th), Heather Harpole (1st) and Rebecca Milligan (8th) joined teachers from around the world this summer to learn the art of teaching children to write at The Teacher’s College of Columbia University Writing Workshop. The group is enthusiastic, energetic and eager to share their knowledge with students, fellow teachers and the entire Episcopal community.
The premise of the Writing Workshop program, which was created by renowned educator Lucy Calkins, is that students learn the concepts of writing – draft ideas, revise, edit and publish – in a workshop setting where teachers serve as guides in the process. The budding writers are introduced to writing essays, narratives, research-based arguments and informational texts. Students write more and longer to boost their overall writing stamina and reinforce the concepts of writing. In addition, the classroom and lessons are set up in a way that encourages the writing process.
All four Episcopal workshop participants expressed honor and gratitude for the opportunity to attend such an influential learning program. Each of our trainees underwent a rigorous application process where they showcased their commitment to teaching writing and the support they have from their school. Once at Columbia, teachers heard firsthand from writing experts and bestselling authors and even had the opportunity to work one-on-one with the workshop’s founder Lucy Calkins. All of this ignited a passion within them that they are more than ready to share with their students and colleagues.
Supporting our teachers in the Writing Workshop was something the professional development team was happy to do as we understand the importance of writing and the far-reaching impacts of students who learn to write well. Staying current with these types of strategies strengthens and enhances our teaching and supports student learning in invaluable ways. While there are many talented teachers at Episcopal and we can often draw on their expertise right here at home, it is always exciting and rewarding when our teachers are selected to participate in prestigious opportunities such as the Writing Workshop. Parents and Episcopal supporters can also be proud of their part in this learning opportunity as donations to The eFund were used to make this inspiring experience a reality.
We hope that as the year progresses you witness firsthand how your child’s writing prowess expands and develops. We look forward to celebrating another successful Author Share with you in May. Keep writing and supporting your young writer!
After teaching third, fifth, and sixth grade at Episcopal from 1990 - 1995, Bridget returned in 2011 as the Head of Lower School. Bridget received her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education in 1986 from LSU. In 2002, she earned her master’s degree in Gifted Education with a minor in Educational Technology from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. She completed her administrative certification at Louisiana Tech University in 2005. She has been an educator for twenty-eight years, eighteen of which were spent teaching traditional and gifted classes in private, public, and Parochial schools. She has ten years of experience as an elementary school administrator and is in her seventh year as Head of Lower School at Episcopal.