Teaching Writing :-(

Discussion in 'Secondary Education' started by kstar03, Feb 10, 2009.

  1. kstar03

    kstar03 Companion

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    Feb 10, 2009

    Hi all,

    Working on persuasive essays currently with my 7th graders and I'm finding it hard to draw the line between helping students with their writing and actually writing the essay for them. I have students that I conference with that say "I don't know what else to write" or "What else can I add". When I model for them (tell them a couple of ideas I would use as a writer, I find them just copying my sentence instead of coming up with their own ideas. How much help do middle schoolers need when it comes to writing essays in class?

    Thanks!
     
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  3. kstar03

    kstar03 Companion

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    Feb 10, 2009

    One more question: How many drafts are appropriate at this grade level?
     
  4. JustMe

    JustMe Virtuoso

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    Feb 10, 2009

    Show interest in what they have already composed and ask follow-up questions which could provide more material. Students will absolutely "steal" ideas you give them...it's kinda of cute because they'll often say, "Yeah, what you said!" :)

    Again, just ask the students guiding questions and that should help.
     
  5. Mrs. Q

    Mrs. Q Cohort

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    Feb 10, 2009

    I agree... I would ask questions and try to avoid giving examples that are relevant to the essay. Once you suggest something, it's hard for them NOT to use it.

    IME with that age level, the students would do one rough draft - they would do peer editing, then go over it with the teacher, then use all their revisions to create their final draft. If you don't do peer editing, I would say one rough draft is plenty at this stage in the game. I'm not a certified English teacher though, so take my advice with a grain of salt. :)
     
  6. ACWrites

    ACWrites New Member

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    Feb 13, 2009

    Have you tried using a graphic organizer with open ended prompts? I have seen many good examples available on the internet, and I just discovered a website called Persuade Star that gives an excellent step-by-step process if your students have access to computers as they write. It's available if you visit the 4Teachers website. (This won't let me post the full URL.) I teach for an online school, and I am definitely going to encourage students to visit it when I teach the persuasive essay next year.
     
  7. ILoveGrammar

    ILoveGrammar Rookie

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    Feb 13, 2009

    I have the same problem with 7 and 8th graders. It is hard not to "rewrite" their essays for them! I can't find the website right now, but it is a school district with LOTS of good graphic organizers and thinking skills worksheets that might encourage that open ended critical thinking. (Greece.something) We only do one rough draft, peer or teacher edit/review, then the final. But, lots of pre-writing activities - graphic organizer, modeling, critiquing exemplars, and so forth.
    Good luck.
     
  8. wig

    wig Devotee

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    Feb 13, 2009

    http://www.greece.k12.ny.us/instruction/ela/6-12/Reading/Reading Strategies/interactivenotebook.htm
     
  9. catnfiddle

    catnfiddle Moderator

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    Feb 13, 2009

    When I was in school, I created an entire middle school writing program as an assignment. The whole basis for it was writing about what they knew and what interested them in popular culture. Sadly, my cooperating teacher wouldn't let me use it because she insisted that I follow HER ideas. :mad:

    http://www.amazon.com/Pop-Culture-Zone-Writing-Critically/dp/1428205063 is a book on the subject, but it's a little pricey!
     
  10. bethune7

    bethune7 New Member

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    Feb 15, 2009

    Iam trying to motive my students I teach in a emtional support classroom. And I try to motivate the students on indepent assignments. But they keep playing or drawing. Most of the timethey refuse..IN our classs are 5,6,7,
     
  11. nothermanda

    nothermanda Companion

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    Feb 16, 2009

    Argh, I HATE teaching persuasive writing!

    I usually do a TON of modelling and example writing before asking them to fly solo. Grab the example tests from previous writing tests (or go to http://www.cde.ca.gov/ta/tg/sr/resources.asp and grab the teacher guides for the last 7 years). I give the students detailed step-by-step instructions that I make up or borrow from other teachers, because the instructions in the book are useless. Then, they read the practice test, do specific prewriting appropriate to the genre, and then create their outlines following a pattern that I give them (it's usually 2-3 PowerPoint slides long). Their first essays end up all looking the same, but that's valuable, because they have gone through the process. After they've finished writing, the kids compare their work to the anchor papers from the teacher guides.

    Then, and only then, do they fly solo.

    You'll never really get past the feeling that you're writing for your students, but remember:

    1. You have a college degree, but they're in middle school. They won't write as well as you do, no matter how hard you work with them.

    2. According to my Psych 101 textbook, 7th graders are just developing the cognitive skills necessary for persuasive writing. Right now, you're just teaching them the form and basic persuasive skills. Don't beat yourself up when their arguments aren't quite logical!

    Good luck!
     
  12. Special-t

    Special-t Enthusiast

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    Feb 17, 2009

    I use the "ask questions" technique. I've found it really helpful to students who just can't organize their thoughts. I even go so far as to create the structure of the essay for them - but not with statements - with questions. They can literally just go down the page and write decent paragraphs by answering the questions I've given. It gives them guided practice and the experience of writing a well structured essay.
     
  13. chebrutta

    chebrutta Enthusiast

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    Feb 19, 2009

    Another idea is to give them the rubric BEFORE they start writing the essay (I'm learning to love rubrics!) If they see what they HAVE to accomplish, then maybe (maybe? hopefully?) they will work harder at their graphic organizers and actual writing.

    http://rubistar.4teachers.org/index.php?screen=NewRubric

    lets you choose subject, format, etc - and what you will be looking for. Plus, if you don't like the guidelines they list, you can go in and change them yourself.
     
  14. kstar03

    kstar03 Companion

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    Feb 20, 2009

    I'm feeling so much better! Thanks to all the awesome suggestions and helpful links. My students have written their first drafts ( I decided to use the TORSO graphic organizer because it was very straight forward) and today was peer revision day. So far, so good!
     

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