Caroline County adopts a new K-8 writing program

Caroline Public Schools is very excited to implement a new writing program in grades kindergarten through grade 8 in its 2017-18 school year. Teachers met at the end of the school year to review several writing programs and chose the Lucy Calkins: Units of Study in Writing program to implement as a part of the balanced literacy program. During the summer, K-8 English-Language Arts teachers participated in professional develop led by highly qualified nationally certified presenters from the Teacher’s College of Columbia University.

The Lucy Calkins, Units of Study Writing program was developed through more than three decades of research and work by Lucy Calkins and her colleagues and is used with success in numerous Virginia school districts, as well as divisions across the country. Units of Study provides a thorough curriculum to help teach opinion, information, and narrative writing with increasing complexity to meet and exceed Virginia’s Standards of Learning in writing. The program fosters high level thinking and includes regular opportunities to synthesize, analyze, and critique writing. It offers tools to conduct strategic writing performance assessment to help monitor student progress and differentiate instruction. Units of Study provides exemplar texts that model writing objectives in all grades and encourages teachers to support students’ independence and fluency in writing while conferring with students individually to provide on-going feedback.

Students are getting acclimated to the program as they work in their K-8 writing folders donated by Caroline County business partners: Grand Canyon University, Best Promotional Products and Apparel, and Horace Mann. Students “publish” and share their work on a regular basis and are motivated to read the work of their peers in hallways all over their schools. If you have an elementary or middle school student attending a Caroline County Public School, there is no doubt that you will read and be impressed with his/her writing during your parent teacher conference.

Teachers are excited about the structure of the program and how it is organized to guide writing instruction from teacher to teacher and year to year. Mrs. Tamara Feggans, a teacher at Bowling Green Elementary School stated, “I appreciate that CCPS chose a program that will serve students from kindergarten through grade 8 so that each grade builds on learned skills as opposed to several different programs with no continuity.” She also shared, “Lucy Calkins Units of Study really taps into the student’s inner writer and gets them excited about writing every day!”

Dr. Joanne Jones, Director of Curriculum and Instruction emphasizes that Lucy Calkins Units of Study provides teachers with direct and explicit structures for teaching writing. “We are eager to implement this program because we know that our students will become better writers which will also promote better readers and learners to encourage college and career readiness. The CCPS Instructional Team is committed to making this program successful by providing on-going professional development and guiding our teachers and administrators through the process of learning and implementing best practices in writing that this program fosters.

Two students writing

Teacher and students in a classroom