Creative Writing for Middle School Students
Encouraging middle school students to write is by no means an easy task. The trick, according to intermediate grade teachers, is to engage students’ senses and make the writing process an interactive experience. The ideas below all come from Sixth Grade Teachers who know, first-hand, the challenges of such a task. Their insight and wisdom will help you engage your students and have them writing creatively in no time.
“For this activity you’ll need one sunny, breezy (not windy) day, bubble soap, and bubble wands, plus students eager for some fresh air,” explains Nancy from Guntersville, Alabama. “When we do this activity, I take my kids outside and begin by allowing them to blow bubbles of all sizes. I guide students to notice the bubbles’ shapes, colors, and the directions they float on the wind. The students take notes. Once we’re back indoors again, I have my students write stories describing what it would be like to travel in a bubble. I remind students to describe what they might see along the way and what problems they might encounter. The students love this activity, and their minds and imaginations soar.”
Making the Most of Marketing Materials
Susan, from Northborough, Massachusetts, writes, “To help my students understand how words can paint a picture that helps motivate people to purchase items, I bring a number of “marketing” pieces to share with my class. These pieces may include classified print ads for real estate or vehicles, as well as packaging from food items and toys. We then read the ads or packaging together and locate the describing words or adjectives that make the offering seem irresistible. For example, if we examine the print on a box of cake mix, we might discover adjectives such as delicious, fluffy, creamy, delicate, sweet, etc. A home for sale might be listed with descriptors such as spacious, sunny, cozy, mint, sparkling, etc. I then discuss with my students why the writers (known as copywriters) use these words and how knowing this can help us all become better and wiser consumers. As a variation on this activity, show students print graphics from newspaper and magazine ads and ask them how the images shown are designed to prompt consumers to spend money.”
In Brenda’s Smiths Grove, Kentucky classroom students are active participants in the room’s decor. “In order to help my students practice and develop real-world editing skills, I’ve established an area, entitled the “Editing Wall.” I encourage the students to use the wall to post mistakes they find in authentic print,” Brenda explains. “So far, students have spotted punctuation and spelling mistakes in books, newspapers, magazine articles, business letters, newsletters, print advertisements, and greeting cards. Each time students locate an error, we make a copy of the page. Then students highlight the mistakes and display them on the wall for all to see and learn from.”
Although the ideas above have been tested in middle school classrooms across the country, the same ideas will work well for elementary students. How do you encourage your students to become better writers? Share your ideas with us!
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