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Reading and Writing Comics: Intensive Phonemic Awareness and Phonics Instruction for Select Students, 2021-22

By Lucy Calkins, Teachers College Reading & Writing Project

This engaging virtual module is for Grades 3 and up students who need significant extra support with foundational reading and phonics skills. A screener is included in the module to help teachers identify students who will be most likely to benefit from particular sequence of instruction.

View the Recording of the Introductory Webinar with Colleen Cruz and Beth Neville from early May.

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Virtual Teaching Resources

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About the Units of Study Virtual Teaching Resources, 2021-22 Subscriptions

Because so many of you in the Units of Study community requested ongoing access to the Units of Study Virtual Teaching Resources from the 2020-21 school year—especially as models for the most effective ways to teach minilessons—Lucy Calkins and her Teachers College Reading and Writing Project colleagues have adapted those virtual modules to align with their 2021-22 Suggested Sequence and have also created some specific additional resources that will be especially helpful as you return to in-person teaching and learning this fall. These Virtual Teaching Resources are designed for student use in any classes that remain virtual as well as for teacher PD.

About this Unit/Module

In this engaging unit, students will author comic books that can become reading material for each other. That is, they have an important reason to use their imaginations, their art skills, their story ideas and their phonological awareness and phonics skill to create—and spell—readable texts.

Although the unit was created with student engagement at its heart, it is also designed to teach a sequenced, research-based, assessment-based curriculum to provide kids with the explicit instruction, opportunities for repeated practice, accessible texts, feedback and supportive community they need to get traction as readers and writers, making demonstrable, important progress. 

Students are launched into this work by learning they will each be creating a series of comics to share with other students. They will discover that as their skills as writers and comic book artists grow, the texts they can read and write will also grow more sophisticated. In Bend I, students will begin with the most accessible and foundational phonemic awareness and phonics concepts, but that learning will be couched in a key characteristic of comic fun: onomatopoeia. Teachers will teach students to hear, write, and read the sounds that will show up in the books they read and write. 

In Bend II, students progress into more complex understandings, including manipulation of phonemes and seeing the connections between phonics and the high frequency words they most use in their comic reading and writing. Using comic features such as speech bubbles, students will explore purposeful ways to isolate words and then return them to meaning and context. In Bend III, as students grow in their confidence as readers and writers of comics, they are encouraged to take risks in longer form comics as well as more illustrated texts. They look across their collection of created comics and consider the best ways to share these with other young readers.

This unit includes a screener to help teachers identify students who will be most likely to benefit from particular sequence of instruction.

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