Home / Curricular Resources / Units of Study /

If... Then... Units

New from Lucy Calkins and Colleagues from Teachers College Reading and Writing Project

The Teachers College Reading and Writing Project and Heinemann are proud to announce the release of four additional book-length units of study, each addressing an especially key topic from the Units of Study If...Then... books.

These new book-length units have been written to fit tongue and groove into the original Units of Study, yet each can also work as a self-contained stand-alone unit, offering you a chance to try on the experience of teaching with the Units before moving to the complete series.

Order If...Then... Units

Two New Reading Units

Word Detectives: Strategies for Using High-Frequency Words and for Decoding, Grade 1

Elizabeth Franco and Havilah Jespersen
available June 2016

Word Detectives: Strategies for Using High Frequency Words and for Decoding, Grade 1Designed to be the second unit in first grade, Word Detectives supports students’ word solving skills and their knowledge of high-frequency words. This playful unit expands on the important work that the entire series does to support youngsters’ foundational reading skills.

In this unit, students will:

  • Learn to monitor their reading
  • Develop their word-solving skills
  • Become more adept at using letter–sound correspondence to tackle tricky words
  • Increase their bank of high-frequency words
  • Become more confident at using the words they know ‘in a snap’ to solve unknown words
  • Develop their fluency skills

This unit is especially perfect for classrooms where many students are moving into levels E, F, and G texts. The foundational decoding skills that students develop will put them in especially good stead before they move into reading nonfiction in Learning About the World.


Mystery: Foundational Skills in Disguise, Grade 3

Brooke Geller and Alissa Reicherter with Colleagues from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project
available August 2016

Mystery: Foundational Skills in Disguise, Grade 3Mysteries are the perfect vehicle for teaching foundational skills that lie at the heart of engaged reading. Students leap at the chance to do the work required to “get” the mystery, following ideas across their texts, seeing cause-and-effect relationships, and predicting outcomes. And, of course, mysteries naturally push kids to infer—to notice clues and to wonder more about them; to consider how part of one chapter relates back to what was learned in an earlier chapter; and to wonder when characters are really telling the truth.

In this unit, students will:

  • Learn to read closely to catch key details,
  • Learn to think back over and accumulate details, developing hunches, suspicions, predictions
  • Become more skilled at gathering information from texts by rereading and annotating
  • Transfer what they learn about mysteries to other types of fiction

This unit is intended to follow Building a Reading Life in the Units of Study series and to reinforce many of the key lessons on foundational skills taught in that unit. It can, however, also come later in the year. Its clear instructional arc will support and engage a wide range of learners.


Two New Writing Units

The How-To Guide for Nonfiction Writing, Grade 2

Valerie Geschwind and Jennifer DeSutter with Colleagues from the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project
available August 2016

The How-To Guide for Nonfiction Writing, Grade 2This accessible unit welcomes second graders into the world of nonfiction writing by rallying them to write lots of little nonfiction books. Youngsters learn that they can take anything they know a lot about—soccer, an ice cream shop, ladybugs—and write in ways that teach their readers about the topic. The unit helps second graders feel that puffed-up pride of being an expert and taps into their eagerness to show and tell by channeling them to write with details and with writerly craft.

In this unit, students learn to:

  • Write about areas of expertise
  • Read mentor texts to study nonfiction writers craft
  • Elaborate
  • Write for readers, anticipting their questions and hooking their interest
  • Experiment with different kinds of nonfiction writing

This unit is intended as Unit 2 for second grade, but can also come at other times in the year. It can serve as a prequel to Lab Reports and Science Books.


Literary Essay: Opening Texts and Seeing More, Grade 5

Katie Clements and Mike Ochs available June 2016

Literary Essay: Opening Texts and Seeing More, Grade 5This unit helps fifth graders meet sky-high expectations for writing literary essays. Members of the class begin by writing an essay about a shared story—a poignant video clip that they watch and discuss together. With that shared experience work as a foundation, fifth graders then learn to design, write, and revise interpretive essays about short stories. Throughout this work, the children—and you, their teachers—are given crystal-clear tips that convey the TCRWP’s latest thinking on this important topic. The unit ends by teaching kids to transfer all they have learned to new circumstances, including those posed by high-stakes tests.

Students learn to:

  • Write to grow ideas about a text
  • Read interpretively
  • Reread closely and carefully to identify evidence that best supports a claim
  • Support a thesis with a variety of evidence
  • Draft and revise thesis statements that capture the themes of a story and that forecast ways their essays will support their theses
  • Transfer and apply their essay writing to respond to prompts and real-world situations

This unit is best taught after students have some experience writing opinion texts. Several books in the Units of Study series support this work, including two fourth-grade writing units—Boxes and Bullets: Personal and Persuasive Essays and The Literary Essay: Writing About Fiction—and the fifth-grade reading unit, Interpretation Book Clubs: Analyzing Themes.