Writing Stations in Middle School - EB Academics

Grab Your Free Writing Guide

Become an EB Insider Today

Writing Stations in Middle School

July 25, 2018 5 min read

Writing Stations in Middle School

July 25, 2018 5 min read

Using writing stations in your middle school classroom can be a game changer in may ways. One of the most effective ways we have found to use writing stations is for reviewing concepts at the beginning of the year.

Before we get into any school year, we always want t

Adding a “Boot Camp” to our lesson plans for the week before a literary analysis unit was a serious game changer. We wanted our students to review some key writing concepts (specifically for writing a Response to Literature) from the previous year in an engaging and meaningful way, so we set up four stations. Each station allowed for review and practice, focusing on a key component of writing a Response to Literature.

Station One: Connecting a TAG (a statement that includes the title, author, and genre) with a Summary in a Response to Literature

While there is nothing wrong when students write a topic sentence with a TAG and a separate summary sentence in their introductory paragraph, we know they can become more fluent with some guidance. After participating in this station, we make it a requirement in their writing to combine the TAG and summary. Even they are impressed with how much more professional their writing sounds! The following is the example we show our students before they practice some on their own.

TAG and Summary (Separate) 

  • E.B White wrote a classic fantasy novel, Charlotte’s Web. A young pig named Wilbur becomes frightened that he will become Christmas dinner at the Zuckerman Farm.

TAG and Summary (Combined)

  • In E.B. White’s classic fantasy novel, Charlotte’s Web, a young pig named Wilbur becomes frightened that he will become Christmas dinner at the Zuckerman Farm.
Station Two: Differentiating Between Statements and Claims (you can also read more about claims in this other blog post here)

Before we can expect students to write claims of their own in a Response to Literature, students need to know what a claim is. In this center, students review the definitions of statements and claims. Then, they work together to sort sentence strips into the appropriate column, either “Statements” or “Claims” and justify why they made their choice. This center is also nice to have on hand throughout the year if individual students need a bit more one-on-one practice.

Station Three: Introducing and Citing Quotes in Responses to Literature

One of our writing pet peeves is when students simply drop a quote into the middle of a paragraph with little to no context. This station reviews how to properly “set the scene” before even writing, “The author states…” in a body paragraph. We stick with an example from Charlotte’s Web before students practice on their own. We show students the following two examples of a body paragraph for a Response to Literature, answering the prompt: “What qualities of a good friend does Charlotte demonstrate? We then discuss which paragraph does a better job of “setting the scene” before the evidence.

Paragraph One 

  • Charlotte is selfless, an important quality of a good friend. “I have decided to go with Wilbur. He may need me” (122). She is putting Wilbur’s needs ahead of her own. She wants to support him and be a good friend by going with him to the fair although she is tired and it would be easier for her to stay at the Zuckerman barn. A good friend, like Charlotte, is selfless because they think of the other person (or animal) first and want to do what is best for them.

Paragraph Two

  • Charlotte is selfless, an important quality of a good friend. Even though Charlotte is concerned about traveling to the fair because she is going to lay her eggs, she decides to help Wilbur. She says, “I have decided to go with Wilbur. He may need me” (122). She is putting Wilbur’s needs ahead of her own. She wants to support him and be a good friend by going with him to the fair although she is tired and it would be easier for her to stay at the Zuckerman barn. A good friend, like Charlotte, is selfless because they think of the other person (or animal) first and want to do what is best for them.

Students always point out that the first example is choppy and as a reader, you don’t know what part of the story is being referenced. The second example clearly orients the reader and flows seamlessly into the quote. Bonus: This is a great opportunity to discuss the justification in the body paragraph and what makes it strong. We then have students practice using some pre-selected quotes from stories they are familiar with. We have them set the scene, introduce the quote, and punctuate the quote properly. Going over this process and making it a non-negotiable in their writing process has resulted in more fluent evidence-based writing! We simply ask students, “Have you ‘set the scene’ for your quote whenever we are doing literary analysis, and inevitably, students go back and improve their writing.

Station Four: Finding the Right Evidence

Even if students are fabulous at setting the scene and correctly punctuating their evidence with quotation marks and a page number, they’ve missed the crux of evidence-based writing if the evidence they’ve chosen doesn’t support their claim or premise (reason). This station walks students through a mini-lesson on selecting the most appropriate evidence to support a given claim. After reading a claim, we discuss four different options for a possible quote to be used with that claim. We critique each quote, asking ourselves, “How does this quote support the claim?” Then we see if we could create justification that would build upon the evidence. This exercise is a reminder to students not to simply choose any quote when we ask them for evidence, but rather be thoughtful and purposeful in their selection.

Students rotate through two stations each day (a silent reading station is also set up to allow for smaller groups), and once they have completed all the stations, any handouts are placed in the reference section of their ELA binders for reference throughout the year.

These stations are a great way to start the year to review key concepts from last year, but also to be used at any point throughout the year before you start a literary analysis or argumentative writing unit!
You can set these stations up yourself, but we’ve also already put an entire resource together for you to save you a ton of time 🙂 You can check out the resource here or by clicking the image below. Please feel free to let us know if you have any questions at all!
Save this post for later!
ELA Writing Stations to review literary analysis and argumentative writing in your middle school classroom. Includes introduction practice, claims and statements practice, introducing quotes in body paragraphs, and finding the right evidence. Engaging stations to use at the beginning of the year or before starting a literary analysis / argumentative writing unit!
 
Caitlin

All posts

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Welcome!

Welcome!

Hi there! We're two middle school ELA teachers with a mission to share ideas, tips, and tricks for effectively teaching reading and writing in the secondary classroom. We're so happy you stopped by!

Caitlin + Jessica

Your 15 Free Resources Are Waiting!

Immediately receive access to our
Free Resource Library

We promise we won't spam you.

Let’s Connect

Popular Posts

Our Latest Posts

Categories

Instagram

  • Are you the person who shows up on time or 10 minutes late?⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
I grew up knowing the rule that if you’re on time, you’re late! ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
And because of that, I wear a watch every, single day ❤️🤷🏼‍♀️ ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
So, when @jordwatches reached out to me to send me some watches, I said, “Heck yes!”⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
And you know what? I honestly really LOVE this watch. It really is so well made. ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
I’ve partnered with them to do a little giveaway for you! ❤️🥳 All you have to do is go to the link in my profile and click on the button that says “JORD Watch Giveaway” to enter to win $100 off of any watch!! ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
Even if you don’t win, you’ll get a nice 10% off coupon code that will be emailed to you. ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
The winner will be emailed within the month once the contest has ended. ⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
Can’t wait to see who wins!⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
😘
  • QUICK GIVEAWAY ❤️😘 I’ll be picking TWO teachers to receive these positive student notes!⁣
⁣⁣⁣
I made these awesome positive sticky notes for middle school students that are a great way to build classroom community!⁣⁣⁣
⁣
Simply ...⁣
1️⃣ Like this post ❤️⁣
2️⃣ Follow us ✅⁣
3️⃣ Tag a friend! 👯 ⁣
⁣
⁣⁣⁣
Let me know if you’d like me to DM you the link to our store where you can grab these!⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
Happy Thursday you guys ...⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣
... almost there 😘
  • Give me a ❤️ if you’re a One Pager fan like Jessica and I are!⁣⁣
⁣⁣
But ...⁣⁣
⁣⁣
... you have to make sure you’re using them CORRECTLY!⁣⁣
⁣⁣
So that students are genuinely engaging with and reflecting upon the text in a meaningful way. ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
It’s not all supposed to be just rainbows and bunnies (although who doesn’t love those?!) 🐰 ⁣⁣
⁣⁣
We put a whole blog post together for you all about the one pager assignment so that you can make sure you’re using it effectively in your classroom.⁣
⁣
Head over there so you can make sure to avoid some easy mistakes as well as make sure your students no longer turn in “ehhhh” work!⁣
⁣⁣
Link to read is in our profile! 😘
  • Double tap if you agree ❤️❤️⁣
⁣
So many of you left messages on my post from the other day about needing to hear my message (if you haven’t read it yet, go back a day and do so). ⁣
⁣
But I really do want you to know that as the years go on, you’ll get better at teaching the actual content. ⁣
⁣
You’ll come up with fun lessons and ideas. ⁣
⁣
Exciting and engaging strategies. ⁣
⁣
You’ll be able to track data more easily and use it to help influence your craft. ⁣
⁣
But until then, just teach your kids to be GOOD people. To do good in the world. To love others. ⁣
⁣
And love them. That’s really what so many of them truly need. ⁣
⁣
A good role model and another adult who wants what’s best for them. ⁣
⁣
Do that 😘 ⁣
⁣
Love to you all, friends! 
Quote originally posted by my friend @hansonhallway ❤️
  • Alright, alright ... I guess I’ll participate in the #10yearchallenge (even though this is 11 years). ⁣
⁣
I’m trying to think of the advice I would have given to my 22-year old self about teaching ...⁣
⁣
- It’s literally the best job. Ever. Take it from someone who has left teaching twice, only to come back because I missed it so much!⁣
⁣
- You need to learn to separate yourself from your work (especially emotionally when it comes to parents, admin, colleagues, or students who disagree with you). I’ve totally changed how I handle challenging parents/students/situations, and it’s made a WORLD OF A DIFFERENCE in my mental health. ⁣
⁣
- The first 2-3 years, just do your best and love the kids. Eventually you’ll master how to actually teach, but that doesn’t come right at the beginning. You really have to work for that. ⁣
⁣
- Be open to criticism, feedback, and observations!! People really do just want you to be the best teacher you can be! You can’t do that if you aren’t willing to change and try new things. ⁣
⁣
- Sleep. Go to bed at a decent hour and sleep. The grading will always get done, but there’s nothing more important than sleep. ⁣
⁣
What advice would you give yourself 10 years ago?
  • Double tap ❤️ if you’re team Oxford Comma like I am! •
📸@prestoplans

Follow @ebacademics

×