Tag Archives: Units of Study

Studying and Thinking about Powerful Whole Group Instruction: Minilessons, Shared Reading, & Read Aloud K-3

Calkins Read AloudStudying and Thinking about Powerful Whole Group Instruction: Minilessons, Shared Reading, & Read Aloud K-3

See below for a full transcript of the chat

Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille

One power of reading workshop is the way in which instruction can move seamlessly from whole-group, to small-group, to individual and back again in the span of a class period. Certainly, a reading teacher’s best chance of really moving kids further in their understanding is while working with small groups and individuals, where instruction can be differentiated to meet the needs of the each student. It is not as possible to meet every student’s needs during whole-group instruction. Inevitably, there will be students who are beyond or not quite at the level of whole-group lessons. But these lessons serve a very important purpose, nonetheless. They serve to rally students’ energy around a single, worthy cause. They serve to create classroom community-wide goals for reading and common language to talk about these goals. They serve to get students jazzed up about a new line of thinking, or a new trajectory in their path of work. 

Continue reading

Unpacking the Middle School Units of Study: Big Pillars and Hidden Gems

CalkClassLib611px16

by Anna Gratz Cockerille

Short class periods. Moving from room to room. Limited space. Adolescent emotions. These are just a few of the challenges middle school students (and teachers) face. To be sure, teaching writing in middle school takes special planning, creativity, and patience. But it can be done, and it can be done well, even with its challenges. 

Continue reading

Ways to Study the Teaching of Writing with Your Colleages: PD Ideas for Inside & Outside the Classroom K-8

CalkClassLib611px26 (1)

by Anna Gratz Cockerille

Albert Einstein once said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and should cease only at death.” In no profession is this commitment to lifelong learning more important and more apparent than in teaching. Teachers know we are never finished learning. We spend our time not in the classroom studying, observing, discussing, and collaborating in order to become the best teachers we can be. 

Continue reading

Teaching Empathy: Using Read Aloud and Text Sets to Think and Talk about Social Justice K-5

CalkClassLib611px20

by Anna Gratz Cockerille 

In the classic novel To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Atticus Finch teaches his children, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view … until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it.” Empathy is the ability to understand the feelings, plight, or situation of another. It is recognizing and valuing perspectives that are different from one’s own. It is the basis for relationships and, some would even argue, is vital to survival.

Continue reading

Students Collaborating in Writing Workshop: Writing Partnerships K-3

essay

Students Collaborating in Writing Workshop: Writing Partnerships K-3

Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille 

As Lucy Calkins writes in A Guide to the Common Core Writing Workshop, “It’s a great thing in life to find someone who can help you with your writing (p. 48).” Lucy believes this for students, for her colleagues, and certainly, for herself. One only has to read the acknowledgements section in any of Lucy and colleagues' Units of Study books to get a sense of the influence and power of writing partners.  

Continue reading

Supporting Convention Work in the Units of Study: Punctuation and Spelling

essaySupporting Convention Work in the Units of Study: Punctuation and Spelling

Written by Anna Gratz Cockerille

One of the bottom-line essentials of writing instruction, detailed in Chapter 3 of A Guide to the Common Core Writing Workshop, part of the Units of Study for Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing by Lucy Calkins and colleagues, is this: 

"Children deserve to be taught explicitly how to write. Instruction matters—and this includes instruction in spelling and conventions as well as in the qualities and strategies of good writing." Further, Lucy explains, “Writing improves in a palpable, dramatic fashion when students are given explicit instruction, lots of time to write, clear goals, and powerful feedback (p.21).”

Continue reading