Collaborative Circle Blog

Being a Writer: Planning and Pacing for Writing Success! Part 2—Grades 3, 4, 5, and 6

In Part 1 of this blog, we offered planning and pacing suggestions for K-2 teachers who are implementing the Being a Writer program. Here, we provide pacing guidelines for the teachers of grades 3-6. We first share general information related to the program’s design and then offer specific recommendations for implementing the program in classrooms where students take summative writing assessments in the spring.

General Program Information

In grades 3-6, the Being a Writer program consists of nine units of instruction:

Units 1 and 2

Unit 1 (The Writing Community) and Unit 2 (The Writing Process) should be taught in order at the beginning of the year.

Genre Units

The genre units focus on personal and fictional narrative, expository nonfiction (informative writing), functional nonfiction (explanatory writing), opinion writing (grades 3-5), argumentative writing (grade 6), and poetry. The genre units may be taught in any order, although we recommend that the expository nonfiction unit (and the argumentative writing unit in grade 6) be taught later in the year.

Unit 9

Unit 9, the last unit, is taught at the end of the year to help the students reflect on their growth as writers and as members of the classroom writing community.

The units outlined above comprise 30 weeks of instruction, which allows time to:

  • Extend or finish units that take longer than expected
  • Teach Writing About Reading activities, Extensions, and/or Technology Mini-lessons
  • Teach units from the Writing Performance Task Preparation Guide

A grade-level specific Sample Calendar is provided in the Introduction of the Being a Writer Teacher’s Manual (Volume 1). You might refer to the Sample Calendar as you make your long-range writing plan for the year.

  • Grade 3 (see pp. xxxii-xxxiv)
  • Grade 4 (see pp. xxxii-xxxiv)
  • Grade 5 (see pp. xxxii-xxxiv)
  • Grade 6 (see pp. xxxii-xxxv)

Pacing Considerations

New state standards commonly emphasize three genres of writing including narrative, informative/explanatory and opinion/argumentative. Accordingly, summative writing assessments may assess students in one or more of these three genres. Below are a few guiding questions you might ask yourself as you plan your instruction and an example of how the instruction could be paced throughout the year to ensure that students are well prepared for the demands of your state’s summative writing assessment.

Guiding Questions

When thinking about long-range writing plans for the year, you might consider the following questions:

  • When is your state writing assessment administered?
  • How many days/weeks do you have for writing instruction prior to the state assessment?
  • What writing standards are assessed on the state writing assessment?
  • How are these standards assessed? What are students expected to do?

Pacing Example

One district answered the guiding questions as follows:

  • The state writing assessment is administered the last week of February.
  • There are 25 weeks of instruction prior to the state assessment.
  • Students are assessed on one of two genres: Opinion or Informative.

Given the above information, the Being a Writer units for Grade 4 might be paced as follows:

Try it Out!

Take a few moments to answer the guiding questions and review the Sample Calendar for your grade level. Based on your answers to the guiding questions and the information gleaned from the Sample Calendar, how might you pace the Being a Writer units this year for your grade level?

We invite you to share your planning successes, reflections, and questions so we can all learn together. Happy planning!

Co-authored with Jackie Jacobs