Lucy Calkins Units of Study Writing Program

We use the Lucy Calkins Units of Study writing program.  Fifth and sixth graders participate in the “workshop” method for writing instruction, which centers on independent student work in combination with teacher modeling and one-on-one and small-group guidance.



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A Workshop Curriculum

By Lucy Calkins

If students have grown up with the Writing Units of Study, by grade 5 they are familiar with most (if not all) of the skills required for fifth-grade standards. In the first unit, students write reflective personal narratives. Unit 2 calls on students to write research reports. In the third unit, students choose to write in either the essay, narrative, or memoir genre. Lastly, Unit 4 teaches students to build arguments in research-based essays.



About the Units


By the time children enter fifth and sixth grade, they will have been introduced to most if not all of the new skills expected. The sequence of units consolidates those skills and introduces the learning objectives called for in the sixth-grade standards: how to conduct research using primary sources, how to write narratives that are reflective and theme-based, and how to write argument essays that use counterargument to clarify a position. Unit 1, Narrative Craft, helps students deliberately use their knowledge of narrative craft to make their stories more thematic. In Unit 2, The Lens of History: Research Reports, students draw inspiration and understanding from mentor texts, historical accounts, primary source documents, maps, and timelines to write focused research reports that engage and teach readers. Building on these new skills, Unit 3, Shaping Texts: From Essay and Narrative to Memoir helps students grasp that form follows content, learning to take insights about their lives and decide whether these are best expressed in narratives, in essays, or in a hybrid genre created especially to convey the writer’s content. In the concluding unit of this series, The Research-Based Argument Essay, fifth-graders learn to build powerful arguments that convincingly balance evidence and analysis to persuade readers to action.



About the Series


Lucy Calkins and her colleagues have drawn on their work from more than three decades to develop a state-of-the-art curriculum in writing to:


    • help you teach argument, information, and narrative writing with increasing complexity
    • foster high-level thinking, including regular chances to synthesize, analyze, and critique
    • develop and refine strategies for content-area writing
    • support greater independence and fluency
    • conduct strategic performance assessments to help monitor students’ progress and differentiate instruction
    • provide a ladder of exemplar texts that model writing progressions across grades.