In preparing to talk with teachers about planning a unit of study, I created this chart to help show how I encourage students to individualize the writing process instead of forcing a lockstep approach to the writing process throughout a unit of study. Here are a couple of slides from my presentation:
Many units of study I plan (especially those that are genre studies) are usually around 20 days. You can see the timeline along the bottom of the image. Now this isn’t a hard and fast, set in stone, no deviation time schedule. I use the term around very loosely. It’s about following the needs of the writers in our classrooms. Usually for younger writers we publish twice during the unit of study.
Here’s a slide where I attempt to explain (very briefly) what I mean by each of the phases in a unit of study.
I like the cyclical nature of collecting and drafting, collecting and drafting, collecting and drafting. So often young writers write a draft and say, “I’m done.” You know, I’ve come to believe sometimes they are. We don’t revise, edit, and publish everything we write. We select the drafts which are worthy of the time, energy, and hard work needed to get our work ready to go public. In order for kids to learn to write well, they need to draft more than they revise. They need to draft way more than they publish. At some point, though, we select the work that is worth our time and we spend time polishing it — revising, editing, and then going public.
At the end of the unit I allow a few days for assessment. It is during this time that students engage in self-reflection, as well as a writing prompt. I think it is critical for each unit of study to see what students can do over time with plenty of support and scaffolding, as well as what they can do on demand in a limited environment…limiting choice, genre, and/or audience, as well as time. This helps us understand our writers more completely.
Does this make sense? I’d love to hear your thoughts as this is the first I’ve attempted to put my thinking about planning a unit of study in my own terms.
Of course it is all followed up with a writing celebration…but that is a post for another day. 🙂
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