Teaching Writing in Middle School: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

Teaching Writing in Middle School: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

Teaching Writing in Middle School: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques

Teaching Writing in Middle School: Tips, Tricks, and Techniques


Classroom-tested lessons, practice problems, examples, games, and resources cover fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, as well as all aspects of writing (including prewriting, editing, and technique). With step-by-step guidelines, helpful tips from the authors, and numerous writing activities, this book offers myriad options for inspiring your students.


Even practical, day-to-day writing is both an art and a craft. It's an art because its driving force is the inspiration of the writer. It's a craft because it demands skill, patience, and practice to do well. This book is designed to help you and your students explore the basic aspects of writing. We divide the long, complex writing process into more manageable pieces: planning, drafting, and editing. We further divide planning into two parts: deciding what to write about (Chapter 1) and more-detailed planning (Chapter 2). We also use a three-step editing process (Chapter 6): revision, polishing, and presentation. The book is organized according to the writing process, so that you can easily find activities on whatever piece of the writing process you would like to explore with your students.

We wrote this book by collecting ideas from adults who write professionally and then adapting them for use as activities in the middle school classroom. Of course, a great idea on paper does not necessarily turn out so well in a real classroom, so we field-tested the activities. Beth uses them in her writing workshops with sixth-, seventh-, and eighth-grade students, and Lindy and her fellow teachers have been using them at Mrachek Middle School in Aurora, Colorado, for the past six years. From these experiences we feel confident that these strategies, lessons, and activities are easy for teachers to use and engaging for students. Each activity has a brief introduction, with an appropriate epigraph, and a bit of history or some idea you might want to present to students. This is followed by the instructions we give to students and the handouts we use.

At the end of each chapter, except for chapters four and five, we have included a section called the [Teacher's Notebook,] which has ideas on teaching writing generally or on teaching the activities in that chapter. The professional writers we interviewed or studied gave us all sorts of ideas about writing that can help teachers and students. We have included some of the best in the [Notes from the Pros] section at the end of each chapter, following the [Teacher's Notebook.]

Three of the [Teacher's Notebooks] are of special interest when you are organizing your class. We have our students keep two notebooks and a folder: one notebook is for collecting writing ideas and a second larger notebook for writing practice paragraphs and rough drafts. The folder for final copies we call the portfolio. All of our students have a writing group that they work with on drafting and editing. We start younger students in pairs until they have some practice working with others in the groups. In any case, the groups are limited to four students. In student instructions we may say [get out your practice notebook] or [work with your writing group." You can substitute your particular organizational methods for ours. If you want more details on ours, see [Teacher's Notebook: On Keeping a Writing Ideas Notebook" and [On Personal, Practice, and Portfolio Assignments] in chapter one and "Teacher's Notebook: On Writing Groups and Writing Conferences" in Chapter 2.

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