This page provides ideas and resources for families, educators, and policymakers for writers in middle grades, 6-8.
1. Students possess knowledge about written language and a variety of forms of writing; quality instruction reflects students? experience and knowledge.
The author raises hard questions about what English teachers must do to improve their quest for fostering vivid, dynamic, original, and thoughtful writers, arguing that conceptual shifts must occur, more people must be educated about writing and learning to write research from the past must fuel future research, a unified conceptual writing curriculum must be implemented, and classroom practices must be dynamically reshaped.
Source: English Journal, Volume 90, Number 1, September 2000
Successful teachers of writing have found ways to support and extend self-selection of writing topics. Two educators share a framework they developed and an example of its use with a set of women's history month assignments.
Source: Voices from the Middle, Volume 9 Number 1, September 2001
2. All families and communities engage with literacy and literacy-related activity. Creating ways to bridge these activities and school writing experiences insures greater participation and success with school tasks.
Julie Hagemann discusses how and why a pedagogy of overt comparison between students' home language (vernacular dialects of English) and school language (standard English) helps students learn the more global features of academic writing and the more sentenced-level features of Standard English, and thus motivates students, helps them learn conventions of academic writing, and develop proofreading skills.
Source: English Journal, Volume 90 Number 4, March 2001
Pat Schnack's community reading-writing project began as a way for the community to appreciate the personalities and quirks of middle-schoolers, as well as to offer her 150 students the individual attention she alone could not provide. The project grew to encompass those goals and more.
Source: English Journal, Volume 90 Number 5, May 2001
The "language arts" develop in concert. Drawing supports writing, writing supports reading; opportunity to use multiple expressions of language increases language learning and ability.
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.
Language learning proceeds most successfully when students use language for meaningful purposes.
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.
Writing is effectively used as a tool for thinking and learning throughout the curriculum.
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.
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.
Language skills conventions [grammar, punctuation, spelling] are most successfully learned with a combination of carefully targeted lessons applied within the context of meaningful writing.
Authors and teachers who write can offer valuable insights to students by mentoring them into process and making their own writing processes more visible.
Technology provides writers the opportunity to create and present writing in new and increasingly flexible ways, particularly in combination with other media.