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This Year’s Launching Unit

Yesterday was our day to work on Writing Workshop at our school’s Summer Institute. My colleagues and I revised our launching unit from last year since it was filled with too many collecting strategies. The calendar we put together is based-off of the work of Vopat, Davis & Hill, Calkins, Buckner, Fletcher, and Lyon.

Here’s what this year’s launching unit looks like (I flipped days 1 and 2 for my classroom.):

Day 1: Writing Workshop Walk Through (Vopat)

Day 2: Quick Publish Assessment: Write a true, one-time story

Days 3 & 4: Writers think about the kind of writer they are. (We left this open-ended so that each teacher could decide exactly how to tackle this.)

Day 5: Notebook Decoration

Day 6: Big talk about taking care of notebooks (Davis & Hill)

Day 7: Writers create entries with feeling by writing from the heart. One way they can do this is by creating a map of the heart and then using that map to help them write with depth of utmost importance. (We’ll also teach kids about plan boxes on this day.)

Day 8: Writers discover ideas for stories in unusual ways. One way to do this is by thinking about strong emotions, such as awe, joy, anger, embarrassment, etc. (M&M’s and Skittles Needed)

Day 9: Looking at Your Place (George Ella Lyon)

Day 10: Writers use strategies to help them craft small moment stories about their lives. One way to get started is by using the Seven Best & Four Worst Strategy. (Buckner)

Day 11: Writers gather artifacts using photographs or artifacts to help them write something new and distinct.

Day 12: Writers are experts about their lives. They can create an expert inventory by starting a “Things I Can Write About List.” (Davis & Hill)

Day 13: Writers choose and develop an entry from their writer’s notebook into a more polished piece of writing.

*Day 14: Writers develop the piece of writing…

*Day 15: Writers revise the piece of writing…

Day 16: Writers understand sentences must a subject, a verb, and a complete thought. (Writers also edit for GUMS.)

Day 17: STAMINA DAY –> Writers create their develop entry into a piece of writing.


*= These days are open-ended so that we can be responsive to what the students need in terms of a drafting and revision strategy for each day.

5 thoughts on “This Year’s Launching Unit

  1. At my previous school WW was always a new thing once they got to my room. They always wanted to write fiction. Their writing was poor, but they enjoyed it. It was always a struggle for me, because it seemed that once I tried to teach them something that would lift the level of their writing, they turned off. They wanted to write the breakfast to bed stories that we all know. Trying to engage them in a genre study was challenging and seemed to suck all of their joy out of writing.

    I am at a new school this year, so I am trying to bring some of the joy of writing back. We’ll see how it goes!

    Thanks for all of your posts.


  2. Matt:

    They’re pretty much writing personal narrative entries. Since my kids have had Writing Workshop since Kindergarten, they don’t challenge me with regard to the genre. How long have your kids been in a W.W.?



  3. This is an interesting plan. It sounds like you are really having students live in their writer’s notebooks before rushing them on to other things.

    I am curious – as they are gathering entries, are you having them only gather personal narrative entries, or can they write anything?

    If only personal narrative, how do the students react. My students seem to only want to write fiction.


  4. I was just curious about any of the mentor texts you planned to use with your launching calender? Do you plan on conducting informal writing interviews/inventories with your students as well?


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