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What We Know about Writing, Grades 6-8 - Previous Revision

This page summarizes findings about writers in the middle grades, 6-8 and provides ideas and resources for families, educators, and policymakers.

Research on literacy learning during the last several decades has revealed a good deal about how students learn language, knowledge that, in turn, can support educators in making sound curricular decisions. Much of this research is characterized by observation of students in the actual processes of writing and reading, giving educators a fuller picture of these language processes and the supportive roles that we, and our students' families and communities, play in their development.  Read more.

Writing Concepts

  1. Students possess knowledge about written language and a variety of forms of writing; quality instruction reflects students? experience and knowledge.
  2. All families and communities engage with literacy and literacy-related activity.
  3. Creating ways to bridge these activities and school writing experiences insures greater participation and success with school tasks.
  4. The "language arts" develop in concert. Drawing supports writing, writing supports reading; opportunity to use multiple expressions of language increases language learning and ability.
  5. Writing is a social activity; writing instruction should be embedded in social contexts. Students can take responsibility in shaping the classroom structures that facilitate their work.
  6. Language learning proceeds most successfully when students use language for meaningful purposes.
  7. Experience with a particular kind of writing is the best indicator of performance; extensive reading and writing within a particular genre or domain increases successful performance.
  8. Writing is effectively used as a tool for thinking and learning throughout the curriculum.
  9. Students? writing and language use reflects the communities in which they participate. The differences in students? ways of using language are directly related to the differentiation of their place in the social world. Language is a form of cultural capital and some forms of language have more power in society than other forms.
  10. Assessment that both benefits individual writers and their teachers? instructional planning is embedded within curricular experiences and represented by collections of key pieces of writing created over time.
  11. Language skills conventions [grammar, punctuation, spelling] are most successfully learned with a combination of carefully targeted lessons applied within the context of meaningful writing.
  12. Authors and teachers who write can offer valuable insights to students by mentoring them into process and making their own writing processes more visible.
  13. Technology provides writers the opportunity to create and present writing in new and increasingly flexible ways, particularly in combination with other media.

 

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What Works in Writing Instruction
Lesson Plans for Teaching Writing
Using the Writer's Notebook in Grades 3-8
Teaching Writing: Craft, Art, Genre

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