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Lucy Calkins Units of Study

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teachcarolina teachcarolina is offline
 
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Lucy Calkins Units of Study
Old 09-11-2017, 04:18 PM
 
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Can anyone please tell me what there is to like about the Lucy Calkins Units of Study? This is our third year and I dislike it just as much as I did the first year. In all fairness, we had absolutely no training; the boxes were dropped off in our rooms and we were expected to just figure it out. When our coach comes in our room, she loosely does the lesson by just taking the teaching point and making her own anchor charts, another thing I hate about the program... charts everywhere! What do the kids do other than read and jot? Where is their accountability? I don't know every book they are reading, so how can I be sure they are really growing through all of this "jotting." How do I even grade all of this jotting? I taught the program with complete fidelity last year and my scores were worse than ever and when I say worse than ever, I mean absolutely horrible! I can't even think about getting through this year having to use this program. I need lessons to teach, not "bends". Those in our district who love ELA say that it's just the "workshop model". So, if that's the case, why do I hate it so much and why did we need to spend all of this money for these boxes of books? I didn't hate the workshop model at all and I had numerous resources that I loved using for reading and writing workshop. I'm a veteran teacher, but this program is going to cause me to leave education.


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Old 09-11-2017, 04:45 PM
 
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We had almost no training in it. Tried it a year and gave up. It's so far over what the kids are capable of, hard to maneuver, unengaging and just plain painful.
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It's hard without training
Old 09-11-2017, 05:25 PM
 
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I really like the UOS (ducks the tomatoes being tossed in her direction)

I didn't at first - it took a lot of reading, a great week of training, and participating in the Facebook groups to help me wrap my mind around it, but I do like them. So I totally get being frustrated!

I'd suggest you register your UOS online at Heinemann there are lots of additional resources and videos that can be helpful. There are pre- and post- assessments online as well. Ask for training, or to observe someone who has embraced it. It does help.
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Old 09-11-2017, 06:25 PM
 
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aincientciv,what exactly do you like about it? Can you give me something specific that can change my perspective of it? I just don't see how this is any better than how I used to use mentor texts (often picture books) to teach the different skills. I can't see having to read pages and pages of someone else's stories and showing examples of student writing for books my students haven't read and know nothing about. I am on the Facebook page and it's obvious that it is monitored and only positive comments are allowed. On other Facebook pages that I am on that are education related and not for UOS, many people express the same frustrations that I am expressing. I am also on the Heinemann page. I watch video after video trying to help me understand what is so good about UOS and I just don't get it!! I truly would love for someone to give me specifics about what is so good about it. I have tried to give it a chance and it is making me feel like a terrible teacher because I just can't make it work for me. Other than saying you like workshop model, what is good about how LC does workshop model?
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Training
Old 09-12-2017, 02:32 AM
 
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Training is super important. I have gone to TC a few times because I live about 2 hours from NYC. They are now holding weekly classes in CT and CA. The best part about anything that comes out of TC is that kids feel the passion about reading and writing. You have to make it your own but think about what we ask kids to do on our State tests. They read a passage or excerpt from a book they have never read and answer insane questions about that text.

I love how TC handles book clubs and my 4th graders love book clubs because of TC. I do not use the units as a script. I use them for my teaching point and active engagement.

Don't be afraid of not knowing every book they read. The big themes in 4th grade are character traits and how a character changes and theme. When you conference with students focus on those standards first. You can tell right away if a student has it or doesn't.

I do have my students writ a reader response with text evidence. (Just not everyday.) I also have my 4th graders work toward the 40 book challenge from Donalyn Miller.I do not make every anchor chart. Some I write on the Smart Board and save them that way.

Wednesday nights TC has a Twitter chat that is very helpful. I would also check out the blogs of Two Writing Teachers and A Year of Reading. They have really helped me with my day to day teaching.

You could also ask an administrator to find other districts near you who have used the units and see if you could take a visitation day to see classrooms in that district. That was also a big help.

TC does have trainers that fly over the world. Your district could get on the list and start setting aside money for a trainer. We had to wait 3 years for the $ but it was worth it.

No matter what program you use, you have to make it work for you.


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Old 09-12-2017, 11:25 AM
 
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I hear your frustration. I guess the real question is do you have a choice? It was mandated to us, and I felt very similarly to you. I was a successful teacher with great scores, and I felt if it wasn't broke, why fix it? But I like my job, my school, and my district, so I dug in and tried to learn all I can. I cannot say enough how much training helped. It has been a lot of work over the past two years but I'm really happy with it now (we started with writing) so much so that I asked to help pilot the Reading UOS.

So what do I like:

Specifically, I like the logic of the units, and how the reading and writing fit together and reinforce each other. Like BRONX said, you've got to make it your own - the units really aren't a script to read, they're more like an observation of how someone successfully taught this lesson. They are a framework. I like knowing that the lesson framework has been extensively tried out and tested with thousands of students.

I like the focus more on student work and less on teacher talk - on of the most powerful parts of my training was watching a "true" mini-lesson of only six minutes to make more time for independent reading or writing and conferences/small group. (In my district, we have 45 minutes each for reading and writing workshop so time is an issue)

I like that students are invited to a grade level experience in th mini-lesson, but that the real teaching takes place in conferences and groups, which allows you to differentiate up or down according to your needs. It just feels respectful to me.

I like that it's about teaching the reader versus the reading and the writer versus the writing - it's a small but powerful switch to focus on the transferability of strategies. Beers and Probst talk about this transferability in Notice and Note as well.

Like BRONX, I find the passion of everyone at the reading and writing project radiates through their work.

Regarding the jotting: we keep a reading notebook, and I model the teaching point for the day. We go through their jots once a week and the students write a notebook entry based off of them - the teaching points correlate to standards, and the jots are their evidence. If your students have never done this before it takes a lot of modeling and conferencing at the start. They do get better!

Regarding the charts: I have a few laminated poster boards, and some big ol post it's (6 x 9). I write the teaching points on the post it's and up they go on the poster - this is my anchor chart. My handwriting is not beautiful and I cannot draw well at all, but it holds our thinking and that's all that matters to me. I feel about "pretty" anchor charts the way some folks feel about "Pinterest" classrooms.

I take grades from the work they are doing in workshop - one a week, because that's my schools requirement. The units/lessons are correlated to standards.

Last edited by ancientciv; 09-12-2017 at 11:55 AM..
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Units of Study
Old 09-12-2017, 05:04 PM
 
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The big issue is that Units of Study was never meant to be a program. Even Lucy (who must be making big bucks off of all the craziness around her units) says you shouldn't even use the teaching manuals after 3 years. Teachers should develop their own lessons and use their mentor texts.

I look at the assessment piece for each unit and focus my mini lessons on those skills. I never read the lessons. I use my background in CAFE, a workshop model, and build the lessons from there. We do have the mentor texts that come with each unit and I have used those.
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Old 09-13-2017, 07:20 PM
 
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Thank you for your replies!! I am sure that training would be a big help, but I don't see that happening in my district. I keep trying to find out what grades Lucy Calkins taught, but I can't seem to locate that anywhere. I think I'm unable to find it because she has never actually taught in the same type of setting in which most of us teach. I'm not seeing the passion about reading and writing that some of you speak about; not from the students and definitely not from our teachers who are trying to implement this. I'm sorry; I am truly trying to have an open mind, but I'm just not loving any of it! Bronx, thank you for the suggestions about the two blogs. I've checked those out and I think those will be a big help. I also checked out the Twitter chat and was able to access several articles that have been very interesting. We are not a common core state, so I don't think LC is necessarily correlated to our state standards and I find the subjectiveness of grading their "jots" really troubling.
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Old 09-15-2017, 07:14 PM
 
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I am trained in UOS. And I too am not thrilled with it. But as someone mentioned, do we have a choice? I use what works for me mixed with my literacy collaborative Fountas and Pinnel training I had years ago and make it work. What I realized is that I am there for my students and if I am doing what's best for them then it's all good. And remember, our DOORS CLOSE😊
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Old 10-10-2017, 04:23 PM
 
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OMG
I thought it was just me...Finishing bend 1 soon and I HATE every second of it. I will not be using it but only putting on the show when necessary.


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