About the Units of Study for Teaching Reading, Middle Grades Series

We want our middle grades students to become flexible, resilient readers, we want them to have a toolkit of strategies for dealing with difficulty, and we want them to read broadly and deeply, alert to the intricacies of texts and to the power of language. To accomplish such ambitious goals, we need classroom structures and resources that support this kind of explicit teaching and learning. The reading workshop offers a simple and predictable framework for teaching strategies and for giving students feedback while they are in the midst of the ever-changing, complex reading work they will do across the middle school grades.  

The Units of Study for Teaching Reading series saves teachers hundreds of hours of planning, freeing time for analyzing student work, working with individuals and small groups, and for studying with colleagues. The series provides teachers with the tools and support they need to move students quickly and efficiently toward grade-level expectations, while also helping kids become proficient, lifelong readers.


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The Introductory Bundle includes 3 components:

1. A Deep Study of Character 
    by Mary Ehrenworth

This unit serves as a primer in what it means to participate in an intense reading workshop. It introduces students to a variety of instructional methods and coaches both teachers and students in how to harness those methods to increase reading expertise and independence.

Students will grow as readers of narrative texts by learning to:

  • consider ways writers reveal complex character traits,
  • investigate how setting can shape characters,
  • and analyze how characters are vehicles for themes.

Throughout the unit, students also learn to take charge of their reading lives by annotating the text and jotting notes in ways that deepen their thinking and prepare them for smart literary conversations with other readers.

Note: This is an ideal unit for the beginning of the school year, offering extra support for organizing a classroom library, matching readers to books, organizing partnerships, and planning for reading workshops.


2. Tapping the Power of Nonfiction 
    by Katie Clements

Nonfiction reading skills are essential to students’ achievement in virtually every academic discipline. To do science, students need to read science books and articles. To study history, they need to be skilled at reading all kinds of primary and secondary sources. When we help students become powerful readers of nonfiction, we help them become powerful learners.

Note: This unit assumes you have a reading workshop up and running in your classroom and that your students have done some work in reading partnerships.


3. A Guide to the Reading Workshop: Middle School Grades
    by Lucy Calkins and Mary Ehrenworth

The Guide to the Reading Workshop: Middle School Grades offers a comprehensive but concise introduction to:

  • the need for this series
  • research on what adolescent readers need
  • ways to launch and sustain independent reading
  • a big-picture introduction to the reading workshop
  • the architecture of minilessons
  • classroom management tips and strategies
  • levels of text complexity
  • conferring with readers and providing transferrable feedback
  • small-group work
  • writing about reading
  • practical help for book clubs
  • instructional Read Aloud
  • the special importance of nonfiction reading
  • supporting English learners in reading workshop


Available Winter/Spring 2018

  • Social Issues Book Clubs
  • Dystopian Book Clubs
  • Reading History: Historical Fiction and Nonfiction Book Clubs


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