Up the Ladder
Reading and Writing Units of Study
When Lucy and her coauthors worked on the Units of Study, they had to make a choice whether to “make shoes that fit—or shoes to grow into.” They chose the latter, writing that curriculum for kids who are growing up within Units of Study reading and writing workshops. This means that each unit assumes students have experienced the unit that came before it. But that, of course, won’t be the case for upper-grade students entering reading and writing workshops for the first time.
- The Up the Ladder books are designed to help classes with upper-grade students who are new to workshop instruction or who are currently working below benchmark levels.
- The units meet students where they are and accelerate the development of their skills in narrative, information, and opinion writing (in the 3 writing units), and fiction and nonfiction reading (in the 2 reading units).
- The Up the Ladder units are designed to be absolutely engaging for students in grades 3 and up, but the primary goal has been to ensure that students make rapid, dramatic progress toward grade-level work.
The TCRWP staff spent a long time studying how to successfully accelerate children’s growth in reading and writing. They analyzed the progression of skills taught across elementary and middle-school grades, identified the most critical foundational skills, and then devised the Up the Ladder units to give students a clear pathway to support the development of these key skills.
Up the Ladder Units
Writing Units: Narrative, Information, Opinion
Reading Units: Fiction, Nonfiction
A Guide to the Up the Ladder Units
The Guide orients teachers to the Up the Ladder writing units, providing guidance on the essential principles, methods, and structures of effective writing workshop instruction. Note: available for the Up the Ladder writing units only.
QR codes at point-of-use link to videos featuring TCRWP Staff Developers modeling how to teach each minilesson.
Anchor Chart Sticky Notes
The teaching points for each day’s instruction are illustrated on large-format sticky notes to help teachers create and evolve anchor charts across the units.
Trade Book Packs
The Up the Ladder Reading units come with trade books designed for teachers to use as demonstration texts, modeling skills and strategies taught in the units. Note: available for the Up the Ladder reading units only.
The Online Resources include downloadable anchor charts, paper-choice templates, student checklists, samples of student work, Spanish translation of resources such as anchor charts and student checklists, and more.
Who should choose the Up the Ladder Units?
- Teachers whose students are new to reading and writing workshop
- Teachers who want to help students accelerate their progress
- Teachers who want to give their students a refresher in reading and writing workshop fundamentals
Note that Up the Ladder units are not meant to be an alternative to the core Units of Study, but rather a ramp to accelerate kids to the grade-level work they will do in those units.
Grade Level Ranges
- Up the Ladder Writing Units — grades 3-6
- Up the Ladder Reading: Fiction — grades 3 and up
- Up the Ladder Reading: Nonfiction — grades 4-6
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Note: the following videos refer to the Up the Ladder writing units. FAQs for the Up the Ladder reading units are coming soon.
- How did the Up the Ladder units come to be and who should use them?
Lucy Calkins (4:22) / Transcript PDF
- How do the Up the Ladder units accelerate kids' growth in each genre?
Hareem Atif Khan (4:23) / Transcript PDF
- What do we mean when we talk about the Up the Ladder units giving kids access to the Units of Study?
Mike Ochs (3:32) / Transcript PDF
Overview of the Units
- What will kids learn and do across the narrative unit and how will that prepare them for grade-level narrative writing?
Mike Ochs (6:43) / Transcript PDF
- What will kids learn and do across the information unit and how will that prepare them for grade-level information writing?
Hareem Atif Khan (5:25) / Transcript PDF
- What will kids learn and do across the opinion unit and how will that prepare them for grade-level opinion writing?
Kelly Boland Hohne (6:19) / Transcript PDF
- What are some of the ways to use the Up the Ladder units with the UOS?
Kelly Boland Hohne (2:22) / Transcript PDF
Assessment for Learning
Support for Teachers
- What are some of the ways the Up the Ladder units support teachers who are new to the Units of Study series?
Hareem Atif Khan (4:19) / Transcript PDF
For more information about the Units of Study in Reading and Writing and to see additional purchasing options, see the K-5 Writing Units, the K-5 Reading Units, the Middle School Writing Units, and the Middle School Reading Units webpages.