Units of Study – Reading

This series builds on decades of teaching and research—in literally tens of thousands of schools. In states across the country, this curriculum has already given young people extraordinary power, not only as readers, but also as thinkers. When young people are explicitly taught the skills and strategies of proficient reading and are invited to live as richly literate people do, carrying books everywhere, bringing reading into every nook and corner of their lives, the results are dramatic.
Lucy Calkins

Following on the success of the Units of Study in Opinion, Information, and Narrative Writing, the new grade-by-grade Units of Study for Teaching Reading, K–5:

  • provide state-of-the-art tools and methods to help students move up the ladder of text complexity
  • build foundational reading skills and strategies
  • support the teaching of interpretation, synthesis, and main idea
  • offer classroom structures to support inquiry and collaboration
  • provide all the teaching points, minilessons, conferences, and small-group work needed to teach a comprehensive workshop curriculum
  • include resources to help teachers build and evolve anchor charts across each unit
  • help teachers use learning progressions to assess students’ reading work, develop their use of self-monitoring strategies, and set students on trajectories of growth
  • give teachers opportunities to teach and to learn teaching while receiving strong scaffolding and on-the-job guidance.

The 10 Essentials of Reading Instruction

Units of Study Essential 1
1. Above all, good teachers matter.

Learners need teachers who demonstrate what it means to live richly literate lives, wearing a love of reading on their sleeves. Teachers need professional development and a culture of collaborative practice to develop their abilities to teach.

Units of Study Essential 2
2. Readers need long stretches of time to read.

A mountain of research supports the notion that teachers who teach reading successfully provide their students with substantial time for actual reading.

Units of Study Essential 3
3. Readers need opportunities to read high-interest, accessible books of their own choosing.

Students need access to lots of books that they can read with high levels of accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. They need opportunities to consolidate skills so they can use skills and strategies with automaticity within fluid, engaged reading.

Units of Study Essential 4
4. Readers need to read increasingly complex texts appropriate for their grade level.

A consensus has formed around the resolve to accelerate students’ progress so they can read increasingly complex texts. Teachers can find ways to scaffold instruction to provide students with access to these texts when they cannot read them independently.

Units of Study Essential 5
5. Readers need direct, explicit instruction in the skills and strategies of proficient reading.

The National Reading Panel strongly supports explicit instruction in comprehension strategies, suggesting that the teaching of even one comprehension strategy can lead to improved comprehension, and that teaching a repertoire of strategies can make an even larger difference (National Reading Panel 2000).

Units of Study Essential 6
6. Readers need opportunities to talk and sometimes to write in response to texts.

Talking and writing both provide concrete, visible ways for learners to do the thinking work that later becomes internalized and invisible.

Units of Study Essential 7
7. Readers need support reading nonfiction books and building a knowledge base and academic vocabulary through information reading.

The strength of a student’s general knowledge has a close relationship to the student’s ability to comprehend complex nonfiction texts. Students who read a great deal of nonfiction gain knowledge about the world as well as about vocabulary.

Units of Study Essential 8
8. Readers need assessment-based instruction, including feedback that is tailored specifically to them.

Learners are not all the same, and learners do not all need the same things to progress. Teaching, then, must always be responsive, and our ideas about what works and what doesn’t work must always be under construction.

Units of Study Essential 9
9. Readers need teachers to read aloud to them.

Read-aloud is essential to teaching reading. Teachers read aloud to open the day, using stories and poems to convene the community and to celebrate what it means to be awake and alive together. They read aloud to embark on shared adventures, to explore new worlds, and to place provocative topics at the center of the community.

Units of Study Essential 10
10. Readers need a balanced approach to language arts, one that includes a responsible approach to the teaching of writing as well as reading.

The National Reading Panel’s recommendations in 2000 supported the need for children to have balanced literacy instruction. Pressley and his colleagues conducted research in balanced literacy, seeking out examples of exemplary teaching in the primary grades and studying the approach to instruction. In every case, whenever they found a classroom with high literacy engagement, they found balanced teaching in place (Pressley et al. 2002).
(Adapted from A Guide to the Reading Workshop, primary and intermediate editions)


Series Components

Grade 2 Units
  • Four Units of Study: Grades K–2 include one foundational unit and three other units to address reading fiction and informational texts. Grades 3–5 each include two units in reading fiction and two in reading informational texts.
  • A Guide to the Reading Workshop, Primary or Intermediate Grades: Details the architecture of the minilessons, conferences, and small-group strategy sessions and articulates the management techniques needed to support an effective reading workshop.
  • If . . . Then . . . Curriculum: Assessment-Based Instruction, Grades K–2 or 3–5: Contains additional units to support and extend instruction and to prepare students for work in the main units as needed.
  • Reading Pathways, Grades 3–5: Puts a system for assessing reading into teachers’ hands and into the hands of students.
  • Online Resources for Teaching Reading: A treasure chest of additional grade-specific resources, including bibliographies, short texts, illustrations to show completed anchor charts, reproducible checklists, pre- and post-assessments, homework (grades 3–5), mentor texts, videos, and Web links.
  • Large-Format Anchor Chart Post-it® notes: Preprinted Post-it® notes with summarized, illustrated teaching points help teachers create and evolve anchor charts across each band and unit.
  • Read-Aloud Post-it® notes, Grades K–2: Preprinted Post-it® notes highlight possible teaching points the teacher might address during the read-aloud.

Order Units of Study for Teaching Reading, K–5