This Writerly Life Unit is designed to help students create a vision for the writing work they will be doing throughout the school year, so it is launched at the beginning of the school year. In our version of this unit, students will be introduced to the writing process by participating in a condensed study of personal story. We chose to use personal stories for this unit because we know that students will have been exposed to lots of stories already in their lives, and that each student will be able to think of a story he or she can write. Teachers who have many years of workshop teaching experience, and students who are already familiar with writing workshop from previous grades, may feel comfortable allowing students to write in any genre of their choice during the Writerly Life unit. This will mean students are working in a wide variety of genres, some crafting poems, some personal stories, some realistic fiction, some feature articles, etc.
It is most important for teachers to remember that a writerly life unit of study is a starting point for the school year. A publication at the end of a writerly life unit will not look as polished as a piece of writing that is published later in the school year. It is also important that the teacher participate in the writing process with the students. There will be many times throughout this unit of study, and the school year, when the teacher will refer to his or her own writing efforts in mini-lessons. Because you are doing exactly what you are asking your students to do, you will become a part of the learning community and not separate from it. And you will be modeling for students exacty what they will be asked to do.
Included in this module you will find video resources, sample lesson plans, sample mini-lessons, and other handouts that will support you in teaching a Writerly Life unit. These resources can support you in thinking about your own teaching in a Writerly Life unit but they aren't a one size fits all plan for the classroom. As mentioned before, you may opt to invite students to choose their own genre in this unit. You may choose different mini-lessons that teach the routines of writer's workshop, and introduce students to the common habits of professional authors . As stated before, this unit suggests that a Writerly Life unit includes students making a personal story. The lesson grid you see in "Section 1: Introduction" also does that, but it could be adapted to allow students to have more choice over what their finished piece of writing is.