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Units of Study – Writing

At the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project, we have been working for three decades to develop, pilot, revise, and implement state-of-the art curriculum in writing. We have had a chance to do this work under the influence of Common Core for the past few years, and this series—this treasure chest of experiences, theories, techniques, tried-and-true methods, and questions—will bring the results of that work to you. Lucy Calkins

Updated Edition Now Available!

NEW! Units of Study for Teaching Writing Video Orientations, Grades K-8 — View now!

Built on the best practices and proven frameworks developed over decades of work in thousands of classrooms across the country and around the world, the Units of Study for Teaching Writing, K–8, offer grade-by-grade plans for teaching state-of-the-art writing workshops that help students meet and exceed rigorous global standards. The Units of Study in Opinion/Argument, Information, and Narrative Writing, K–8 will:

  • help you teach opinion/argument, information, and narrative writing with increasing complexity and sophistication
  • unpack standards as you guide students to attain and exceed those expectations
  • foster high-level thinking, including regular chances to synthesize, analyze, and critique
  • develop and refine strategies for writing across the curriculum
  • support greater independence and fluency through intensive writing opportunities
  • include strategic performance assessments to help monitor mastery and differentiate instruction
  • provide a ladder of exemplar texts that model writing progressions across grade levels, K–8
  • give teachers opportunities to teach and to learn teaching while receiving strong scaffolding and on-the-job guidance.

Writing Bill of Rights

When a student enters your school, what promise do you make about the writing education he or she will receive? Lucy Calkins
A Guide to the Common Core Writing Workshop

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&rsquot;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 Common Core 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.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)



Series Components

Grade 1 Units
  • Four Units of Study per grade level, K–5, and three Units of Study per grade level, 6–8: Include all the teaching points, minilessons, conferences, and small group work for a comprehensive workshop curriculum.
  • A Guide to the Common Core Writing Workshop: Describes the essential principals, methods, and structures of effective writing workshop instruction. (Now available for separate purchase! Ideal for principals, curriculum coordinators, coaches, and other who are supporting teachers as they implement Units of Study.)
  • If...Then...Curriculum: Assessment-Based Instruction, Grades K–5 and 6–8: Contains additional units to support and extend instruction and to prepare students for work in the main units as needed.
  • Writing Pathways: Performance Assessments and Learning Progressions, Grades K–5 and 6–8: A powerful assessment system offering learning progressions, performance assessments, student checklists, rubrics, and leveled writing exemplars.
  • Large-Format Anchor Chart Post-it® notes—New for grades K–5!
  • Online Resources for Teaching Writing: Provides unit-specific print resources to support teaching the units—New Format!
  • Online Spanish translations of student resources including writing samples to use with Writing Pathways, student checklists, Anchor Chart Sticky Notes, and numerous other classroom materials such as daily charts, folders, and parent letters. Also included are lists of Spanish-language mentor texts—New!
  • Online Video Orientations—New!
  • Units of Study Trade Book Packs (grades K–5 only; recommended optional purchase): Used to model effective writing techniques, encourage students to read as writers, and provide background knowledge.

Order Units of Study for Teaching Writing, K–8