Preparation Protocol: Tabbing the Sessions


This post is part of a collection of posts dedicated to supporting teachers who are in the beginning stages of implementing the Calkins Units of Study for Writing.

I have a love affair with Post-it Durable Index Tabs. Honestly, they have changed my teaching life.  Today I’m going to show you how they have helped me with the overwhelming task of learning the Units of Study. I know each book has a table of contents, but that isn’t the most efficient way for me to find what I need.  (Remember, I’m all about efficiency).  So I devised a system to help: I label and tab each session.

Tabbed Unit of Study

Before you make the assumption that this looks too overwhelming or that it is a waste of time, let me share my process with you.  First of all, I recently timed myself tabbing a book, and it took less than 15 minutes without rushing. Small investment of time that reaps big rewards for me.



1.  I gather my materials: a unit of study, an ultra-fine Sharpie marker, and several colors of tabs.

2.  I open up to the inside front cover of a unit to display the unit bends and topics. I count how many bends. In this unit, there are 4 bends. I designate one color of tab for each bend.

3. I lay out enough colored tabs for each session in the bend and number them.

4.  I label each tab with just a few words to capture the essence of the session. I use the session description in the first column of the inside front cover to help. 

5.  Once the tabs are labeled, I place them on the right hand page of each new session, lining each tab adjacent to the previous, allowing me to clearly see each title.

How this benefits me:

By spending a few minutes looking at the session titles inside the front cover, I quickly familiarize myself with the unit.I get a sense of the work in each bend.I wrap my mind around about how long each bend will last. Once the book is labeled, I can quickly locate a session and feel much more knowledgeable about what I will be teaching in the unit. In short, this process leaves me feeling empowered!

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