Best Book I Have Not Read

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Starting the Writing Workshop-Intermediate Grades August 18, 2008

Filed under: Calkins,school,units of study,writing — bestbookihavenotread @ 12:07 pm
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This is a Unit Plan I helped create to facilitate the use of Lucy Calkins’ Units of Study program that many teachers found too overwhelming. (Sorry Lucy, I think you are fabulous!)


Focus for the Week

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

Week 1

Focus Lesson A: Coming to the Meeting Area    



Focus Lesson B: Listening and Responding to Each Other    



Focus Lesson C: Generating Ideas About a Person-select one person from list and brainstorm small moments with that person.Group Share-people and small moments Group Shares ~5 minutes (not everyone every day)  


Focus Lesson D: Seed Story lesson (Calkins Units of Study p. 27) Watermelon vs. Seed graphic
Group Share-seed stories   
Focus Lesson E1:
Teach building stories step-by-step (Calkins Units of Study p. 56) as a pre-write for narrative
templateFocus Lesson E2: Personalizing Our Writers’ Notebooks
(becomes homework)

Group Share- stories 

Week 2

*Procedural Mini-Lesson: Setting Up Pages in Notebooks  

Focus Lesson F: The Importance of Keeping a Writer’s Notebook

Group Share-writer’s notebook covers


*Procedural Mini-Lesson: Settling Down to a Quiet Work Period, Routines Regarding No Interruptions, etc.  

Focus Lesson G: Including True and Exact Details (teacher uses own personal story or mentor text for grade level)

Group Share- favorite new detail


*Procedural Mini-Lesson: Continue Focus on Necessary Routines to Sustain Workshop

Focus Lesson H1: Use template to write story

Assessment #1-assess story for seed idea, details, and sequencing (rubric to follow)

Group Share- stories 




*Procedural Mini-Lesson: Responding Meaningfully to Your Partner (asking focused questions, etc.)  


Focus Lesson I: Qualities of Leads taught with mentor texts

Group Share- stories

Homework-leads worksheet  

*Procedural Mini-Lesson: Continue Focus on Necessary Routines to Sustain WorkshopFocus Lesson J: Writing leads-students write three different leads for their story. Group Share-favorite leads  

Assessment #2-completition of writing leads

Group Share- favorite lead 


Week 3

*Procedural Lessons as needed for individual classroom.Focus Lesson K: Using quotations (mid-workshop teaching point p.    




Focus Lesson L: Qualities of Endings taught with mentor texts (Calkins p. 93) Group Share-   

Homework-endings worksheet



Focus Lesson M: Writing endings-students write three different leads for their story.Group Share-favorite ending Homework-  


Lesson N: Conventions mini-lesson as neededGroup Share-favorite ending Homework-as needed if progress is not far enough  


Focus Lesson O: Publish story with revised lead and ending.Group Share-favorite ending Homework-as needed   


Week 4

Publishing Party Assessment #3-assess final piece for seed idea, specific details, lead, ending, and general mechanics (rubric to follow)

At this point, fifth grade moves to Raising the Quality of Narrative Writing and fourth grade works with Timeline Strategy



* Suggested topics for procedural mini-lessons

Resource: Lucy Calkins-Units of Study for Teaching Writing Grades 3-5


Yahoo has a user group for teachers that use Units of Study


Thinking Skills and Read Alouds

Filed under: books,kidlithosphere,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 11:00 am
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Another great resource for beginning of the year read-alouds can be found at the blog Literate Lives. Bill (a teacher turned librarian) and Karen (a fifth grade teacher) are great resources for teachers. They mentioned some books that are new to me that I will want to read for myself. Thanks to them for those good recommendations!


Peer Editing and On-line Resources

Filed under: on-line resources,school — bestbookihavenotread @ 10:54 am
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When I was preparing for some grade level meetings for the next two days I was looking for a specific web resource and I was reminded that not all teachers know about a great on-line resource called the Ohio Resource Center (ORC). Even if you are not from Ohio, this on-line data bank is very useful, as many state standards are similar.  I pasted their general information below. Anyone can surf, but you can also set up a free account and bookmark the web resources that you like so you don’t have to go looking for them later.

Ohio has a wonderful ORC provides links to peer-reviewed instructional resources that have been identified by a panel of Ohio educators as exemplifying best or promising practice. Available resources also include content and professional resources as well as assessment and general education resources that will support the work of preK–12 classroom teachers and higher education faculty members. The resources are correlated with Ohio’s academic content standards and with applicable national content standards.

One resource ORC has listed that I really like is a ReadWriteThink lesson which is a lesson on peer editing. Check is out!


Beginning of year picture books for intermediate readers

I love to start the first day with First Day Jittersby Julie Danneberg. It’s a great way to introduce the idea to kids that everyone (kid or grown-up) get nervous sometimes. As the story unfolds, many of the stereotypical reasons a kids wouldn’t want to go to school are used. Eventually the principal leads the nervous person to her new class (most students still think it is a new student) only to reveal on the last spread that it is the teacher that has been the nervous wreck. I’ve used it different ways, but last year we had a class discussion about things that they were nervous about at their new school (fourth graders are new to the intermediate school after being at the elementary for kgn through third for our district).  We then can go back to that list at the end of the first week to see if the things they worried about have been resolved.

I also like to use The Relatives Cameby Cynthia Rylant the first day to introduce the ideas that things are different when you go to a relatives house compared to your own house, just like rules at school/classroom are different than the rules they might have had at home or at the elementary. Nice springboard into setting class guidelines. This book also makes a great starting point to inspire an introductory writing sample for students to write about a special time with a relative.