Leah (comment #30),
You asked some GREAT questions about using Lucy Calkin's Units of Study in your classroom. I will try to answer your questions below based on my experience with her units.
1. You said that your students are not producing as much writing as they used to. You find that they are spending all of their time on one piece, and some are not even finished when it comes time for the author celebration.
We find the exact same challenges in our classroom! One thing that we have done to improve the situation is to add in days where we are not reaching a "new" mini-lesson, but, instead, we are just reinforcing/reviewing what we have taught in previous lessons. When using Lucy's lessons, sometimes I feel like they could really be stretched into many days. If I just try to keep teaching a new lesson every day, my students rarely have time to get any real writing done. Her lessons require students to look closely at a specific piece of writing and to make it better, but there are times when my students do not really have enough written to make the lesson very useful. We have found that adding in "catch up" days where the mini-lesson is a short review rather than a new concept gives our students more time just let their ideas flow and increase the actual volume of their writing without giving them a new "task." Also, if a student is really behind during the publishing stage, I have no problem having him take him work home to catch up. This is rare, but it is necessary at times.
2. You asked if I hold my students accountable for using the specific strategies I teach in the mini-lesson.
The answer is yes and no. On some days, I will characterize the strategy as an "optional" tool that students can use during independent writing time that day. On other days, I will be clear that this is a strategy that I want every student to try. (It may not be something that they never use again if it wasn't useful for them, but there are some strategies that I really think most students will find beneficial to their writing.)
3. Your final question was about management. You indicated that your students seem to be at all different parts of the writing process.
I feel the same way, and there are a few things I do to best manage my workshop. First of all, adding in the "catch up" days like I mentioned in question #1 can allow certain students to catch up on a previous strategy before introducing a new one. However, I feel like having students at all different stages of the writing process is inevitable. I tell my students that they are never "finished." If they finish one piece they are expected to start another entry in their Writer's Notebook. However, when it comes time to draft, all students select one entry (seed story) from their notebook that they want to take through the writing process. Some students have many "seed stories" to choose from, and some students have just a few. At that point, we are all drafting at the same time.
I hope I've answered your questions!
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