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

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

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

  • This honestly might be my favorite tip I’ve EVER come across on IG. EVER!!! 🤗🤗🤗 It’s from my friend Melissa @readingandwritinghaven ⁣
⁣
It’s meant to ensure you’re not teaching writing genres in isolation. KEY 👌🏼 ⁣
⁣
Here’s how it works:⁣
- Take a topic and put it in the middle⁣
- Brainstorm possible titles or questions related to that topic that could be addressed in different genres ⁣
- Give students choice and have them pick 1-2 genres to write ⁣
⁣
Honestly. Brilliant. ⁣
⁣
Thanks @readingandwritinghaven !! And if you aren’t a fan of Melissa yet, you definitely should be 😘♥️
  • It’s about this time of year that I always seem to think about quitting. Every year. Without fail. ⁣
⁣
And I think it’s because it’s the hardest part. ⁣
⁣
Just like how at the gym you think there’s no way in HECK you can do that last push-up or that last squat. ⁣
⁣
May is that last lunge. ⁣
⁣
But I remind myself every time, that I’ve left teaching twice only to be MISERABLE. ⁣
⁣
The grass almost always looks greener. But it’s not always greener. ⁣
⁣
Just take care of yourself, let things go, give every piece of effort, and then enjoy your summer knowing you reached deep within yourself to make it there. ⁣
⁣
And make it there happily, filled with contentment. ⁣
⁣
Happy Friday in May, friends. Love you guys 😘 📸 @carlacoulson
  • Tell me what you’re teaching right now 👇🏼 Seriously! Let’s get a catalogue of awesome content, so we can all learn from each other!⁣
⁣
I’m currently teaching a fan favorite “The Cask of Amontillado” - the irony, the foreshadowing, the evil soul of Montressor ... it is SO GOOD. ⁣
⁣
Anyhow, we’re still trucking along to the end! Keeping it interesting and engaging with great lit!⁣
⁣
Love you guys 😘 Keep up the good work!
  • When is your bedtime? Because please tell me I’m not the only one 🙋🏼‍♀️🤷🏼‍♀️ (I might even change that to 8:30 at this point 😆).⁣
⁣
Happy Monday, friends 💕 ⁣
⁣
Let’s kick this week off with a bang! I’ve got an awesome podcast episode coming out tomorrow with my friend, Holly @researchandplay and next week’s episode is going to be *JUST* what you need to hear this time of year. ⁣
⁣
Love you guys! 😘
  • My Mom’s best advice ...?⁣
⁣⁣⁣⁣
Life is short. Drink the Chardonnay. Eat the carbs. Travel the world 😂😘 (Which is precisely what we’re doing in this pic from our last trip to Italy together) ♥️ Gotta love her. ⁣⁣⁣⁣
⁣
Happy Mother’s Day! I am a proud momma to my little William and two furry boys, Charlie and Huckleberry 👶🏼🐕🐕 and just want to celebrate all the women in our lives - whether you are a mom, hoping to become a mom, or don’t have the desire to be a mom. ⁣
⁣
Women are amazing!⁣
⁣
What’s your mom’s best advice?
  • Double tap if this students’ response was on point and made you laugh 😂😆 Honestly this is one of my favorite IG posts I’ve ever seen! Thanks @helloteacherlady for spreading the laughs 🤗

Follow @ebacademics

×