Reading Institute @ Columbia Univ.

My name is Erica Diamond and I am currently teaching 6, 7, and 8 year olds at a project-based charter school in San Diego, CA.  I was recently accepted into the Summer Reading Institute at the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project at Columbia University.  As a public charter school, our funds are limited.  Unfortunately, my school does not currently have the funds to support this amazing opportunity.  I am determined to attend and am humbly asking for your help in making this dream a reality.

Your contributions will help me with the cost of the conference, round-trip airfare from San Diego to New York, and hotel stay.  But beyond that, read on to find out what you’re really supporting…

I am incredibly passionate about developing a love of reading in my students and giving them the richest possible education as readers.  I want them to be able to make sense of what they are reading, ask questions, and think deeply.  Most of all, I want my students to honestly, truly enjoy reading.  I want to take children on a journey as they learn to read and become readers.  I want even the wiggliest of readers to sit, captivated with a story and get swept away in its magic.

I am incredibly excited to be able to attend the TCRWP Reading Institute this summer because I know that this resource will help me teach with greater efficiency and power.  Teaching through a workshop structure lets us come together as learners and work as a team, throwing our hearts and souls into our learning.   I am excited to learn from mentors like Lucy Calkins on how to turn my classroom into a richly literate workshop that supports children making inquiries and collaborating with each other as readers.

There has been a huge shift in the last few decades in the teaching of reading.  Research indicates that none of the reading programs enacted under the No Child Left Behind Act have proven to be effective or reliable.  There is at least fifty years of evidence that suggest that packaged reading reforms do not improve student achievement.  We need something different; we don’t need effective programs, we need effective teachers!  As a teacher, in order to give my students the richest, happiest, most powerful literacy education that I can give them, I also need the richest, happiest, most powerful professional education I can get.  The best thing I can do for my learners is to create a vibrant environment of learning.  I whole-heartedly believe that attending the Reading Institute this summer will provide me with the experiences to make this a reality in my classroom.

I want my students to be flexible, imaginative readers who read just as much for pleasure as they do for purpose and academics.  But above all, I want the students in front of me to be able to read anything they want, any time they want.  I want them to see themselves as readers that are not defined by a level, but who feel they can tackle any text with confidence and expertise.    I want them to learn to read, but more than that, I want them to learn to love reading.  I want reading to feel like a breath of fresh air.  I want my readers to wonder what lies between, under, and beyond each word they read.

Books are a great equalizer in our society.  If children can read, they can overcome a variety of societal barriers that may otherwise serve to oppress them and their success as members of our society.  Up to 80% of incarcerated individuals are considered to be functionally illiterate, however studies show that if a child can read at grade level by the end of 3rd grade, there is a 99% certainty that that child will never be incarcerated.

I hope that as a teacher I will be able to serve the needs of today’s readers and become an inspiration for many who are otherwise uninspired.  I want to make teaching and learning how to read exciting and meaningful, but also effective and supportive.  I want to change the world one child, one moment, one book at a time and I hope that through this process I can change and learn as well.  Truthfully, I would be honored to attend this institute and spread a love of reading throughout my classroom and school community. 

Thanks and Love,
Erica Diamond


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Erica Diamond 
San Diego, CA
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