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Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing, Grades 3-5

A Workshop Curriculum

High Expectations, Achievable Goals

The writing units of study help teachers provide their students with instruction, opportunities for practice, and concrete doable goals to help them meet and exceed any set of high standards.

Proven Tools and Methods

It is an understatement to say these units have been piloted many times. The teaching in these books has been planned, taught, revised, and retaught, through a cycle of improvement involving literally thousands of classrooms in schools dotting the globe.

A Clear Instructional Arc

Each writing unit represents about five to six weeks of teaching, structured into three or four “bends in the road.” Rather than tackling the entire journey all at once, it’s easier to embark on this series of shorter, focused bends, pausing between each to regroup and prepare for the next.

The 7 Essentials of Writing Instruction

Units of Study Essential 1

"When a student enters your school, what promise do you make about the writing education he or she will receive?" - Lucy Calkins

1. Writing needs to be taught like any other basic skill, with explicit instruction and ample opportunity for practice. Almost every day, every student needs between fifty and sixty minutes for writing instruction.

Units of Study Essential 2

2. Students deserve to write for real, to write the kinds of texts that they see in the world—nonfiction chapter books, persuasive letters, stories, lab reports, reviews, poems—and to write for an audience of readers, not just for the teacher’s red pen.

Units of Study Essential 3

3. Writers write to put meaning onto the page. Young people will especially invest themselves in their writing if they write about subjects that are important to them. The easiest way to support investment in writing is to teach children to choose their own topics most of the time.

Units of Study Essential 4

4. Children deserve to be explicitly taught how to write. Instruction matters—and this includes instruction in spelling and conventions, as well as in the qualities and strategies of good writing.

Units of Study Essential 5

5. Students deserve the opportunity and instruction necessary for them to cycle through the writing process as they write: rehearsing, drafting, revising, editing, and publishing their writing.

Units of Study Essential 6

6. Writers read. For children to write well, they need opportunities to read and hear texts read, and to read as insiders, studying what other authors have done that they, too, could try.

Units of Study Essential 7

7. Students deserve clear goals and frequent feedback. They need to hear ways their writing is getting better and to know what their next steps might be.

Read More . . .

To read more about how you can work with colleagues to articulate the vision guiding writing instruction at your school, download the sample chapter for your grade level, excerpted from A Guide to the Writing Workshop (Primary, Intermediate, and Middle School Grades). Note that the Guides for each grade level are components in the Units of Study in Opinion/Argument, Information, and Narrative Writing, K–8 series.

Series Components

Units of Study
Units of Study

Four Units of Study per grade level include all the teaching points, minilessons, conferences, and small group work for a comprehensive workshop curriculum.

A Guide to the Writing Workshop
A Guide to the Writing Workshop

Describes the essential principles, methods, and structures of effective writing workshop instruction. (Available for separate purchase—ideal for administrators and coaches who are supporting implementation of Units of Study.)


Abbreviated versions of additional units help teachers meet specific instructional needs—plus if/then scenarios to help teachers master the art of conferring.

Writing Pathways
Writing Pathways: Performance Assessments and Learning Progressions

A powerful assessment system offering learning progressions, performance assessments, student checklists, rubrics, and leveled writing exemplars. (Available in a K–8 version - ideal for administrators and coaches)

Anchor Chart Sticky Notes
Anchor Chart Sticky Notes

The teaching points for each day’s instruction are illustrated on large-format sticky notes to help teachers create and evolve anchor charts across the units.

Trade Book Packs
Trade Book Packs
(recommended optional purchase)

Across each unit, trade books are used to model effective writing techniques, encourage students to read as writers, and provide background knowledge.

Online Resources
Online Resources

The Online Resources offer downloadable, printable files for the anchor charts, student exemplars, homework assignments, checklists, and assessment resources.

Online Resources - Spanish Translations
Online Resources - Spanish Translations

Spanish translations of resources such as teaching points, anchor charts, and student self-assessment resources are provided, along with lists of Spanish-language mentor texts.

Grade-Level Video Orientations
Grade-Level Video Orientations

In these video courses, Lucy Calkins and her colleagues provide an overview of the units along with tips and guidelines to help teachers get off to a good start.

Up the Ladder Up the Ladder

Just getting started with the Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing? Consider the Up the Ladder units to accelerate intermediate students’ progress to the work they will do in the grade-level units. Who should choose the Up the Ladder units?

  • Teachers in grades 3–6 whose students are new to writing workshop
  • Teachers in grades 3 and up who want to help students accelerate their progress in writing
  • Teachers in intermediate grades who want to give their students a refresher in writing workshop fundamentals

Note that Up the Ladder units are not meant to be an alternative to the core Units of Study, but rather a ramp to accelerate kids to the grade-level work they will do in those units.

Comprehensive Overview

For more information about Grades 3–5, download the Overview.
For details about the new editions of Grades K–2 Units of Study, download the Grades K–2 Overview

Purchasing Options

Each Grade Level with Trade Pack

Each Grade Level without Trade Pack

Additional Units of Study for Grade 3

The TCRWP is a learning organization that is continuously building on their earlier work. This additional unit fits tongue-and-groove with the original grade 5 units.

Guide to the Writing Workshop

A copy of the appropriate Guide is included in your Units box. The Guide is also offered separately for administrators and coaches.

Trade Packs