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Units of Study in Argument, Information, and Narrative Writing

A Workshop Curriculum for Middle School Grades

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.

Units of Study
Units of Study

Three 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.)

Assessment-Based Instruction

Abbreviated versions of additional units help teachers meet specific instructional needs.

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)

Online Resources
Online Resources

Offers downloadable, printable files for the anchor charts, student exemplars, homework assignments, checklists in every session, digital files for resources provided in Writing Pathways, and Spanish translations of various resources.

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.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Getting Started


Meeting the Needs of English Learners

Middle School Units

Purchasing Options

Series Bundle and Each Grade Level Set

Please note that the Middle School Writing Units do not have trade packs.

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.