Teaching middle school writers

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  • 1. By Laura Robb
  • 2.  Robb interviewed many of middle school students and found that most of them had a very active outside-of-school writing life. Some of the examples students gave her included:  Mysteries  Stories about animals  Detective stories with many chapters  Poems  Sports  Drawing pictures
  • 3.  The students were asked what do they like best about writing and their responses illustrate a strong desire to communicate feelings and ideas. “There are so many things I like! Mostly it’s the way writing gets my feelings out. It makes me feel refreshed. It’s a way of expressing myself, and makes me feel proud of myself.” “Writing poems is who I am. I find out more about friendships, what’s happening to the earth, why I like or dislike things. I have to write every day.”
  • 4. “…middle school is a time when writing is amore central, more steadying need ofadolescents than many educators haverecognized.”
  • 5.  Nine out of ten students do some kind of outside-of-school writing More girls do three or more types of writing outside of school than boys. Seven out of ten students who write outside of school have not told their teachers about their outside-of-school writing lives Students who have a teacher who encourages them to write in school are likely to write outside of school.
  • 6.  Not only does blogging invite students to post their opinions about topics, issues, local, and world news, but it also demands quick processing of reading and fast thinking for responding. Establishing a class blog is an excellent way for students to find topics for journal writing, have quick conversations, and engage in writing and posting book reviews.
  • 7.  About half the students surveyed write on blogs at home and/or in school At school, students used blogs to write about books they read and respond to questions on diverse topics that the teacher or peers posed. Students in grades 7 & 8 blogged a great deal more than those in grades 5 & 6
  • 8.  Six needs of teaching Middle School Writers:  Responsibility: Students want to take on real responsibility and control over their learning.  Relationship: Teams of students can collaborate throughout the writing process.  Relevance: Middle school students want a reason to write.  Inquiry: Infuse writing class with opportunities for students to wonder about self, feelings, friends, school, family, relationships, and issues about justice in their community and beyond.  Choice: It can drive students’ motivation to hit on the right topic, genre, and audience.  Hope: It’s hope that nudges adolescents to pick themselves up and work to move beyond failure. They dare to write about topics they care about.
  • 9.  Post and review your workshop schedule: students like knowing that they will be conferring or editing their writing Present explicit teacher demonstrations: focused 5-10 minute lessons. Reserve a chunk of time for students to write: at least 30 minutes Use writer’s notebooks: use them as aplace for students to collect ideas for their writing. This could include pictures, songs, poems. Consider setting aside five to seven minutes at the start of students’ writing time so they can gather ideas in their notebooks. Robb suggests doing this three times a week. Use the time when students are writing to confer with students whose names you’ve written on the chalkboard.
  • 10. Use Mentor Texts to… Inspire students to write their own personal narrative, poem, etc. Allow students to connect or relate to the text Generate ideas for students to write about To introduce a specific subject area
  • 11.  Generate questions relating to their own lives Generate questions and musings that would in turn help them: 1. Find a topic 2. Brainstorm ideas 3. Create a plan 4. Begin crafting personal narratives and poems
  • 12.  Change and Loss “How do I deal with the death of a parent, pet, friend, silbling, or relative?” Relationships: Insight into Self “Why do some relationships work and some fail?” Coping With Fears- “What do I fear? Pressure:Inside and Outside Influences: “Why do I need so much approval from peers?”
  • 13. 1. A text that is familiar to the students, or they have heard before2. Material that captivated you and compelled you to share with your students3. Texts that students choose to share and study
  • 14. “Knowing I can revise-make my piece better-is the real part of writing. I try my best on the first draft. But I always have to rewrite and add details”
  • 15.  Rubrics: -Students receive a 1, 2, 3, or 4. 4=A, 3=B, 2=C, 1=D, 0=F -Students feel hopeless and not hopeful when they continue to receive 1‟s and 2‟s. -Locks teachers and students into specific statements -Student: “Just give me an „F‟, I don‟t have to write then” -Teacher: “Your hopeless, so I‟m not giving you extra time”
  • 16.  Criteria: -Can and should be negotiated between teacher and students-Incorporate what student‟s are learning and what they‟ve shown they can do in writing class- Students have a better idea of what is expected of them because they helped create the criteria.
  • 17.  Teacher can reflect on whether a few students or the entire class had difficulty meeting one or more criteria; then use this data to make re-teaching decisions Can easily see what students wrote well and what areas require revision Still room for negotiation in conferencing.
  • 18. 1. Let the writing rest2. Read the writing out loud3. Use questions to edit and revise4. Use the numbering strategy5. Reread the brainstorming and plans6. Use the criteria to self-evaluate an early draft7. Rewrite parts related to the criteria8. Confer early in the process9. Edit for writing conventions10. Have the teacher read
  • 19.  Chapter 2: Improving Students’ Creative and Analytic Writing Chapter 5: Making Powerful Writing Happen Day to Day: Lessons that Work Chapter 7: Conferring: Answering Middle Schoolers’ Need to Collaborate Chapter 8: Writing Conferences in Action Chapter 9: Analytical Exchanges Online: Blogs and Beyond