Organizing thoughts into a fluent piece of writing is a challenge for most writers at some point in time. It can be frustrating to know what you want to say, but struggle to put those thoughts into a coherent, interesting piece of writing. Reading articles or books in which professional writers discuss their personal methods for overcoming this dilemma is always informative, and can often help provide suggestions to make organizationeasier. However, finding writing methods and materials that will fit into a middle school class period offers quite a different set of challenges. Two of the best methods for focusing middle school writers are the graphic organizer and the writing journal. I go over the use of both of these tools with my classes, but individual learners are encouraged to choose the method that works best for them.
Journals Promote Creative Thought
Enticing middle schoolers to write isn’t easy. But I have found that asking them to maintain a writing journal during a project seems to help them get started. Each individual has some type of notebook exclusively dedicated to writing. Here, they can keep lists, thoughts, and ideas regarding the assignment. I also ask them to make a habit of writing notes, thoughts, maps, whatever comes to mind when they are considering the project. The goal is to write daily, taking time to review and revise their information on a daily basis throughout the duration of the project. Once your writers have collected their ideas and information in their journals, they can transfer that information to some form of graphic organizer.
Graphic Organizers Assist with Logical Progression
Graphic organizers help students to arrange their thoughts in a logical order. After they transfer their ideas from their journals onto the organizer, they can arrange them according to category, theme, or however it makes the most sense for them. As the ideas are categorized and grouped together, cohesion can be seen. At this point, they can begin to use recorded ideas to develop narratives, compositions, and essays. As a sixth grade teacher, I ask everyone to try using a variety of organizers. I ask them to experiment with the different types of organizers to figure out what works best for them. Some of the types of graphic organizers that might be helpful for middle school writers are spider maps, t-charts, and timelines. Let them try each kind. Finding what works best for each person is the key to helping them to arrange their thoughts and ideas into a logical sequence.
Rubrics Hone Writing Content
After learners have outlined their ideas, I give them a rubric to guide the revision and editing process. My favorite rubric resource is Rubistar. It is a free rubric website where you can create a rubric, or use a prefabricated one. I not only use rubrics for evaluating writing assignments, but also for writing checklists. When my pupils know what I am looking for, they know how best to revise and edit their work. Methodically moving through the sections of the rubric and comparing it to their paper helps develop critical thinking and writing skills. The rubric is a vital tool for bringing together the entire writing process.
Combining The Three Worksheets
By using a combination of journals, graphic organizers, and rubrics, students can learn to make their writing fluent and focused. The idea is that once these tools have been successfully employed in writing assignments, learners will begin to automatically turn to graphic organizers, journals, rubrics, or even other resources when they are finding their ideas and words difficult to express.
More Writing Worksheets:
Here is a lesson that uses a writer’s checklist to discover the key elements of composition. Pupils review the writing process, correct mistakes, and make a piece of writing more interesting. A writing rubric could be added in order to focus their attention on specific edits and revisions.
This is another lesson that uses a writer’s checklist to practice pre-writing techniques in order to focus student writing. The specific organizing technique utilized in the lesson is clustering. The basic idea of this resource can be used with other organizing methods and checklists.
Learners create a short, humorous story by using worksheets to divide a story into four steps that can be illustrated. They also study the use of onomatopoeia in comedic writing.