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
"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
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
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.
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)
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
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)
- 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 will the Units of Study help your students meet grade-level standards and succeed on high-stakes tests? Mary Ehrenworth (3:05)
- 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)
- What does writing workshop look like? Mary Ehrenworth (5:34)
- What conditions are needed for success with the Units of Study? Mary Ehrenworth (3:09)
- How do the units support assessment and goal setting? Mary Ehrenworth, Audra Robb (5:11)
- How can teachers and administrators know how writing is going in their schools? Mary Ehrenworth (7:53)
- What changes can teachers expect to see in their classrooms when they begin using the Units of Study? Mary Ehrenworth (1:51)
Meeting the Needs of English Learners
Middle School Units
- What does workshop look like in middle school? Part 1: The Workshop Framework Mary Ehrenworth (2:54)
- What does workshop look like in middle school? Part 2: Adjusting the Work for Different Timeframes Mary Ehrenworth (9:46)
- How are the reading and writing units connected in the middle school grades? Mary Ehrenworth, Katy Wischow (2:02)
Learn More in the Resource Center
Series Bundle and Each Grade Level Set
Please note that the Middle School Writing Units do not have trade packs.
Virtual Teaching Resources
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.