How to Overcome the Three Mistakes Teachers Make When Teaching Writing - EB Academics

Grab Your Free Writing Guide

Become an EB Insider Today

How to Overcome the Three Mistakes Teachers Make When Teaching Writing

October 18, 2018 13 min read

How to Overcome the Three Mistakes Teachers Make When Teaching Writing

October 18, 2018 13 min read

After 10+ years teaching writing, you can bet we’ve made plenty of mistakes! We want to share with you some of these, but we’re also going to share strategies that you can use to easily fix them. These tactics took us years to learn and refine, but you can take these lessons and immediately apply them as you work to improve your writing curriculum. One of the questions we get asked the most is, “How do you teach writing in middle school?” These three mistakes (and solutions!) are going to be the stepping stones you need to read about in order to find success in your writing program.

Mistake #1: Not Providing a Framework for Students to Follow

We can’t instruct students to simply write a five paragraph essay on a given topic and in turn, expect well-structured, thoughtful analysis. With this approach, students often submit choppy essays that go off on a tangent with some evidence sprinkled in here and there. Been there and done that, and let’s be honest, grading these essays made us want to pull our hair out!

One of the best strategies to use when teaching writing in middle school is to explicitly teach your students what you want them to include in a literary analysis essay, or Response to Literature, as we like to call it. AND then give them a graphic organizer that follows this framework.

When we did this with our students, immediately, they stopped saying, “I don’t know how to start” or “What do I write next?” Gone were the essays with a topic sentence and a quote from the text, but little to no explanation or analysis.We created a graphic organizer that provides students with a detailed outline of the very specific framework we teach. The graphic organizer also includes a reminder of what each section entails. After requiring students to use the graphic organizer for several writing assignments, many of them stop needing it and can remember the basic framework as they start writing their latest well-organized and well-developed essay.

If you want to grab this same graphic organizer we use, just add your information below, and we’ll send it right to you!

We’ll be sending these writing resources your way shortly!

Simply sign up below and check your inbox 🙂 

    We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.


    Mistake #2: Not Including a Writing Sample for Students to Model

    We admit, we were a little late to the game with this one, and only started doing this a few years into our teaching careers! But, seriously, now we wouldn’t think of giving a major writing assignment without a writing sample for students to analyze before they write their own.

    First of all, we realized that sometimes the questions we were asking our students to answer in a multi-paragraph Response to Literature were way too difficult in terms of finding evidence, which resulted in weak essays. If we were struggling with crafting a writing sample, how could we expect students to write an essay without tremendous difficulty?Now, we provide students with a sample Response to Literature on the same topic they are writing about. We spend class time highlighting the various elements of the essay. Then we circle examples of strong vocabulary or effective transitions. This helps set the expectations for students when they begin to write their own essays.

    Mistake #3: Not Supplying Students with a Rubric

    Most teachers have at least heard about the benefits of using rubrics, and you may even be using them already for your assignments. But, are the rubrics being used in the most effective way possible?

    First, it is crucial that students analyze the rubric BEFORE they begin writing their essay. Do they understand the language in the rubric itself? Do they need clarification on any of the expectations? The rubric should be their constant companion as they write, so they can check off that they are meeting the expectations.

    Second, have students use the rubric to assess the writing sample you provide them. This will help strengthen their awareness of the expectations, making them more likely to meet or exceed the expectations in their own writing.

    Finally, the power of the rubric doesn’t end when you pass it back filled with comments (honestly, we keep the comments to a minimum since the rubric we use is so thorough). Attach a writing reflection handout with the graded assignment and rubric and allow students time to reflect on their own writing and make improvements! 

    Keep reading … now that you know the three mistakes you might be making when teaching writing, we’ve created a free Resource Download for you …

    Our wish for you is to avoid these mistakes in your classroom, which is exactly why we’ve put together three incredible resources for you. A graphic organizer for your students to use, which makes following a framework so much easier, an easy-to-use rubric to make grading faster for you, and a student reflection that they can use to review their own writing. 

    We’ll be sending these writing resources your way shortly!

    Simply sign up below and check your inbox 🙂 

      We won’t send you spam. Unsubscribe at any time.


      Also, make sure to follow us on Teachers Pay Teachers to be notified when we upload new resources! We always do a special discount when we release a new resource, so it pays to follow us!

      Save this post for later!

      Caitlin

      All posts

      2 Comments

    • Kylie February 2, 2019 at 10:29 am

      I’ve tried on two different computers and none of the links seem to be working. I tried allowing pop-ups too, but that didn’t help either. Is there another way to access the graphic organizer, rubric, and student reflection sheet? Please let me know. Thank you!

      • Caitlin February 4, 2019 at 12:57 pm

        Hi Kylie!

        I’m so sorry you’re running into issues, and I can’t seem to find where the error is as all of the pop-ups work on my end. I can, however, go ahead and manually add you to our email list so you receive these resources right away! I will send you an email separately to get that going for you.

        Thank you!
        Caitlin

      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

      ×