Better Student Writing – Ten MiddleWeb Favorites


We love to share writing about student writing! Here, in no particular order, are some reader favorites from the last several years. You’ll find a nice range of posts by teachers, authors and writing coaches. See more of our articles and book reviews about strengthening writing instruction at our Writing Index page.

1. Make Writing a Daily Ritual in Every Subject

Students who write in class every day become more skillful at expressing what they feel and what they are learning, says NBCT and writing project leader Mary Tedrow. Using quality prompts that connect content and personal experience helps students “write their way to an understanding of curricula.”

2. Ten Surefire Ideas to Remove Writing Roadblocks

Literacy expert Regie Routman takes teachers for a ride and demonstrates how to avoid roadblocks that make writing less than doable, effective and gratifying. The destination? Classrooms where students routinely write to think, problem solve, create and explore.

3. How I Finally Figured Out Collaborative Writing

Despite her strong commitment to 21st century collaborative learning, Amber Chandler admits she’d “always held back from allowing my students to work together on their writing.” Would everyone be engaged? Could it be graded? Then her kids showed her the way.


4. What We Can Do When Kids Don’t Write Clearly

The difficulty students have in writing clearly can be traced to many factors, says literacy consultant Sarah Tantillo, from muddled pre-CCSS standards to weak teaching practices. Here she offers concrete suggestions to correct persistent writing problems that students bring with them to the secondary grades.

5. Managing Multiple Writing Conferences

In her article on conferencing with student writers, teacher-author Marilyn Pryle tells how she manages multiple writing conferences with each student during a class period. The key: give students small manageable tasks they can do on their own – as you circulate. Great tips!


6. Stop Student Plagiarism Before It Starts

For ELA educator Cheryl Mizerny, detecting plagiarism and determining consequences require more energy than proactively planning assignments so they don’t lend themselves to copying. She shares strategies to support learning while making plagiarism less attractive to middle school students.

7. How to Teach Memoir Writing in the Middle Grades

Educators may be reluctant to try memoir writing with middle grades kids, but the rewards are considerable, says 8th grade teacher-author Jake Wizner. He shares three insights that can help guide teachers as they enrich the student writing experience.


8. Use Interactive Writing to Teach ‘You’ Narration

What happens when second person narrative meets interactive historical fiction? Kevin Hodgson’s sixth graders find out as he introduces digital Make Your Own Adventures. Click through choices in students’ Google Slides to venture into early civilization.

9. Modeling Helps Students Read Like Writers

Leaping into writing with students can be almost as thrilling as sky-diving, says Mary Tarashuk, who has now tried both. Here she describes how she is modeling “the writer as reader” with her upper elementary students and shares their organizer for narrative writing.

10. Tips & Tools to Improve Student Notetaking Skills

Effective note-taking can deepen understanding, but students rarely develop this skill on their own, writes Curtis Chandler. With a few tweaks we can help middle schoolers transform the painful process of note-taking into a terrific tool for thinking and improving the writing process. Tips & links included.

BONUS! Hanging Out Online with a Real Comics Author

When Sandy Wisneski engaged middle graders in a comic book project that combined writing, art and social studies, she wanted a whiz-bang culminating activity. She struck virtual gold when she found professional comics illustrator and author Alex Simmons.



MiddleWeb is all about the middle grades, with great 4-8 resources, book reviews, and guest posts by educators who support the success of young adolescents. And be sure to subscribe to MiddleWeb SmartBrief for the latest middle grades news & commentary from around the USA.

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