By Lucy Calkins with TCRWP Colleagues
The new Units of Study Virtual Teaching Resources are designed to supplement the print Units of Study in reading, writing, and phonics, and help teachers adapt instruction for the 2020-21 school year. These year-long subscriptions include student-facing minilessons to go along with almost every session in the corresponding print unit books or (in a few instances) curricular calendar units. These minilesson videos tend to be about five to eight minutes long, and they closely follow the minilessons in the units—with adaptations to make them briefer. Each unit also includes interludes when the staff developer talks directly to you, the teacher, suggesting small groups or conferences or tools from the curriculum that will be especially helpful to you at that point. For each unit, there are a small number of print materials that your children will need access to, and these are available to you in the Heinemann Online Resources that accompany the print Units of Study books (for each unit, you will need access to the corresponding Unit of Study book).
In a few instances, we’ve included a virtual unit for curriculum that has not yet been published as a book, this is what we refer to as “curricular calendar units.” In those instances, we make the curriculum materials available to you with the Virtual Teaching Resources. Occasionally we recommend that you and your students revisit a unit of study from a prior grade (e.g. second grade launches with an adaptation of the first-grade Small Moments unit). In those instances, that unit is made available in the UOS Virtual Teaching Resources in digital format. Sometimes we include freestanding units that are available outside the core sets of units. Teachers will need to acquire those books to teach our recommended 2020-21 sequence. Of course, you’ll make your own curricular decisions—the units we recommend reflect our shared knowledge of kids across the country, and you’ll have much more developed knowledge of how virtual learning has gone for your particular students.
Each virtual unit includes a video message for children’s families, helping them to understand the goal of the unit and the main trajectory of work and helping them know ways they can support the work of the unit.
Our fervent hope is that you’ll find these resources, paired with the print Units of Study, help you to be more agile and responsive to each other, your students, your families (those of your students and your own). We hope, too, that the virtual teaching that we’re putting into your hands helps you believe that even in this time when so much is no longer possible, we can teach reading and writing in ways that are intimate and passionate and joyous and engaging.
Above all, we hope these resources allows you to start the year with more confidence, more adaptability, and a can-do attitude. There is little that matters more right now than your fervent belief that yes, somehow, despite it all, you’ll be able to teach in ways that matter. The tug you feel in your chest of feeling so responsible for your children, for how they’ll succeed in school and beyond, that drives you forward … that tug is all-important. And it will lead you to use these resources in ways that work for you, your kids, and your community of practice. That tug is the core of all that matters in teaching.
For more information, including sample videos, visit UnitsofStudy.com/VirtualTeaching.