A Division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Heinemann

Projecting Possibilities for Writers

The How, What, and Why of Designing Units of Study, K-5

Matt Glover, Mary Alice Berry

ISBN 978-0-325-04192-6 / 0-325-04192-X / 2012 / 160pp / Paperback
Imprint: Heinemann
Availability: In Stock
Grade Level: K - 5th
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“When you create a unit of study, it’s tempting to think you know exactly what will happen on day 5, 13, or 18. But you can’t know. As soon as a unit starts, we begin making adjustments. This book shares a process for projecting a unit of study so you can make decisions as you respond to students each day.”
—Matt Glover and Mary Alice Berry

As a teacher, you value instructional flexibility because, after all, nearly anything can happen—and does! Yet you still have to plan instruction that helps your writers meet curricular objectives. Helping you solve this dilemma is what Projecting Possibilities for Writers is all about.

You can’t know exactly when in a unit of study students will need extra support or be ready for a particular minilesson. That’s why Matt Glover and Mary Alice Berry show how to project rather than plan—to design a sequence of instruction that not only supports deep understanding but gives you the agency to respond to individual needs and meet key writing standards.

Projecting Possibilities for Writers shares how to determine what to teach during a unit, how to teach it, and why to teach itas well as when to make the crucial adjustments that this flexible approach makes possible. You’ll look over Mary Alice’s shoulder as she plans a unit for her writing workshop, while “Try It Out” suggestions lead you to project your own units.

Solve the flexibility vs. planning dilemma! Trust Projecting Possibilities for Writers and learn to teach with a roadmap rather than a rigid set of directions as you create learning experiences for classes of individual students with individual needs. 

1. Responsive Teaching in the Writing Workshop
2. Organizing Your Teaching into Units of Study
3. Projecting a Unit of Study: A Process Overview
4. What Should I Teach? Choosing Units of Study
5. Studying Mentor Texts and Projecting Teaching Possibilities
6. Determining Primary and Secondary Goals
7. Projecting Minilessons and Anticipating Issues
8. Responding and Reflecting During and After a Unit of Study

A. Possible Units of Study
B. Unit of Study Projection Template
C. Critical and Possible Units of Study
D. Resources for Understanding the Qualities of Good Writing
E. Resources for Reading Like a Writer
F. Celebrations

In Depth

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“More than anything I’ve read in ages, Matt and Mary Alice skillfully balance the need for clarity and direction in a unit of study with every teacher’s hope to be responsive to individuals with a wide range of needs as writers. They show through sharp, clear examples how teachers of writing can differentiate for each child while maintaining the big picture direction for the whole community of writers.

Matt and Mary Alice tackle the dilemma of planning meaningfully for young writers in the context of the Common Core State Standards and prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that teachers can adhere to the standards and still project units of study based on the students right in front of them. The planning process they propose will become “a habit of mind” for teachers—an inquiry process that encourages students to explore and notice what great writers do while operating within a manageable framework of the unit projection.

It is not surprising that Matt and Mary Alice are able, in this book, to provide teachers with the kind of clarity in unit planning that takes them beyond scripts and kits. They have worked together for years with an extraordinary passion for understanding and responding to each child but they have also worked within a district and state that have, as they all do, policies and prescribed practices that limit teachers’ decision making. They see their way through that quagmire and take teachers right along with them allowing us to maintain the integrity of student-centered instruction in a one-size-fits-all world.”
—Ellin Oliver Keene, coauthor of Mosaic of Thought

In Projecting Possibilities for Writers, Matt Glover and Mary Alice Berry provide teachers with a clear, practical guide to designing units of study. Even more than that, they describe how thoughtful, inspired teaching depends on teachers having ownership of decision-making in planning curriculum. This book is a handbook for how teachers can reclaim agency in their teaching.”

—Carl Anderson, author of How’s It Going?

PD Resources From Matt Glover



  • Invite Matt Glover to speak at your school, district, or conference through Heinemann Speakers.


Email planningservices@heinemann.com if you would like to contact Mary Alice Berry directly about professional development support.

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