Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing
A Workshop Curriculum for Kindergarten-Grade 5
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
"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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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: 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
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
(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.
The Online Resources offer downloadable, printable files for the anchor charts, student exemplars, homework assignments, checklists, and assessment resources.
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
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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- What are some things the coauthors would like you to know as you consider the Units of Study? Mary Ehrenworth, Audra Robb, Lucy Calkins (4:08)
- How can setting high expectations raise the level of student achievement? Lucy Calkins (2:43)
- Getting Started with Units of Study Part 1: What are some of the different ways to begin? Lucy Calkins (2:01)
- Getting Started with Units of Study Part 2: How can grade-level teams prepare to teach the units? Kelly Boland Hohne, Katy Wischow, Mary Ehrenworth (2:08)
- Getting Started with Units of Study Part 3: What can teachers do to support students when they are new to the units? Katie Clements (1:52)
- What conditions are needed for success with the Units of Study? Mary Ehrenworth (3:09)
The Grades K-5 Units
- What changes can teachers expect to see in their classrooms when they begin using the Units of Study? Katie Clements, Katy Wischow, Kelly Boland Hohne (2:21)
- How are foundational skills supported in the writing units? Katie Wears, Amanda Hartman (2:43)
- How are the writing units connected to the reading units? Katy Wischow, Amanda Hartman (1:31)
Learn More in the Resource Center
Purchase Recommendation: choose the bundle with the Trade Book Packs if your library does not already include the mentor texts referenced in the Units.
Each Grade Level with Trade Pack
Each Grade Level without Trade Pack
Virtual Teaching Resources
Additional Units of Study for Selected Grade Levels
The TCRWP is a learning organization that is continuously building on their earlier work. These additional book-length units fit tongue-and-groove with the original grades K, 2, and 5 units. Additionally, Small Moments, the first unit in the core set of first grade writing units, is available for separate purchase.
Guides to the Writing Workshop
A copy of the appropriate Guide is included in your Units box. These Guides are offered as an optional purchase for administrators and coaches.