DrupalWomenQ-#6581

How do you get Middle Schoolers to love to write especially when they HAVE TO write for a state standardized test? Personal Expressive writing… where is it anymore?

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13 Answers

  1. avonlady wrote on :

    Have them write about something they are passionate about and then find something within that topic where you can help him / her branch off and write more about that part of his passion in more detail with descriptive words, etc.

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  2. spartn88 wrote on :

    For some inspiration, try visiting http://www.writeinthemiddle.co Heather Schwartz’ site for middle school students. She has inspiration for their writing. She is our latest grant winner at peaChic.com, which is how we became acquainted with her site.

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  3. Diane Mary wrote on :

    I signed my children up for summer camps at a local college they loved it being only 4 days. They also listen to books on audio in the car instead of movies and video games. I also stress that every movie starts as a written story. I have asked them to think about all of the words in the English language and how talented people put them in order producing amazing poems and stories.Some people are not “writers” no matter what. It worked for my daughter but not my son. You just can’t love something but he gets by. My daughter is off to college next year to study writing for film and television! She started writing plays and poems in the 3rd grade. So I think you have it or you don’t. But by making it fun for them they won’t find it so excruciating

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  4. Liz_Seegert wrote on :

    been there. I teach undergraduate level communications courses and the writing at this level is sometimes appalling – my students always say school – especially middle school – turned them off to writing. Like other posters, I strongly believe the topic has to be relevant to them, whether it’s the latest fashion trend or Transformer movie. One idea is to have them write up little “reviews” as if they were a fashion critic, etc. as a way to help them get thoughts down on something that interests them.
    If they take a shine to it, you could even consider allowing them to start a wiki or blog (with supervision of course!) – it could be a private journal, or a way to communicate with family and friends.

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  5. montaguecottage wrote on :

    My experience may be a bit different being based in the UK but have always felt that the topics given to write about are SO BORING.

    Although my daughter was a gifted writer she really hated creative writing at school – perhaps the formulaic way they were taught – beginning middle and end and having to put in a “dilemma” stifles any kind of creativity and maybe it helps some kids but not her.

    What I did teach her to do was to delight in being subversive – turn the subject on its head and write about what interested her weaving in marginally what you were supposed to write about.

    For instanc the subject “the trainer” (a practice topice for our SATS here) could be about a training shoe or a Pokemon trainer or could be a horror or detective story starting with a training shoe on the lawn with just a foot in it and could then be about werewolves or escaped zoo animals or whatever. Once the subject is fun then it is much easier to write and the story takes off.

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  6. DawnMarie Helin wrote on :

    My favorite way to get kids to write, is to ask them to write a short children’s book. Writing for a younger audience removes the pressure and expectations. The natural proggression to an older audience becomes more natural and fun.

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  7. Erika Bradley wrote on :

    Perhaps if you encourage them to choose a topic they feel passionate about.
    This, I believe, would put to rest the age-old comment “I don’t know what to write about”.
    I would suggest they not only write about what their passion is now, but how they would like it to see it manifest in their future.
    I’m sure this would fill a page.

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  8. Linda Middlesworth wrote on :

    Ask them to write about what they love to do!

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  9. Robin Richards wrote on :

    Take any one of their favorite books, i.e., Harry Potter, etc., and post the type of question that Sara did. This could be a little practice test. As Sara said, and I agree with her, good writing comes from writing about what you know best and love. For most girls this age, it is about animals. I know my favorite books to read were about horses. I absolutely loved them. For boys, it’s about heroes, sports and all things testorone. Regardless of the subject, pick a favorite book, movie, video game or subject and ask the question. Just let the child run with whatever comes to mind. Sometimes Mom, you have to use your imagination in order to get them to use theirs.

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  10. Eileen Davis wrote on :

    Sara’s answer is excellent. Also, as an English teacher for thirty years I learned that kids love to exchange ideas in both oral and written format. Constant writing and discussion go hand in hand. They need to feel that their ideas matter. Teachers should, about once a week, do what the SATs do — throw out a topic and dedicate a brief writing session to it (no formality as to spelling, grammar, mechanics — idea development is the focus). Then have a sharing session where students read their thoughts aloud and discuss. Topics should be related to everyday life and culture — things the students might be expected to have opinions on. This kind of practice creates an atmosphere in which writing loses its fear, becomes second nature and an important, valued part of one’s day. So, when the student is confronted with that opinion-based essay, he’s seen this task before, done it before and feels comfortable with the format — no matter what the subject may be. To paraphrase what they say in reality tv shows (a recent SAT essay topic), “Do try this at home, too!”

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  11. Darcy Silvers wrote on :

    Middle school is a tough age; kids are more self-conscious as their bodies are changing – and their self-image along with it. Expressing themselves, especially through writing, can be daunting. Add to that the stress (whether it’s simply self-imposed or not) of a standardized test, and you’ve got a double whammy. However, students should be encouraged to write about topics they care about. If you remove the pressure of perfect grammar/syntax/punctuation/spelling, they might be more willing to express themselves in writing. (You can always go back later and edit for the technical aspects.) Have them pretend to be posting on Facebook or another social media site. Schools need to focus on the benefits of writing for its own sake – not for the scores on standardized tests.

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  12. Geri Brin wrote on :

    I love Sara’s answer. I would add this: When the child is passionately talking about something, anything, see if you can get him to write about it. He can start with a short paragraph, then make it longer next time he’s talking about something that excites him.

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  13. Sara Wald wrote on :

    I don’t think you can make someone love to write, but when you are writing about what you love it comes more naturally. This can be a challenge when it comes to standardized tests which are often timed and on a given topic. While the writing format expected for these tests are often rigid, the topics are often open-ended. For instance, a famous quote may be presented and the question would be “Do you agree or disagree with this quote.” Encourage the students to stick to the expected format but to get creative with their supporting examples and use their own interests/personal stories as evidence.
    Hope this helps!

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