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Lisa Rank's Story
Making Writing Meaningful to Middle School Students
When asked to develop a Writing for Publication course for middle school students, I turned to ReadWriteThink.org for inspiration and advice. I knew I wanted my students to understand that writing was relevant to their lives beyond school. I searched ReadWriteThink and found two specific tools to add enhance my writing course this fall: "Persuading the Principal: Writing Persuasive Letters About School Issues” and “Motivating Young Writers Through Write-Talks: Real Writers, Real Audiences, Real Purposes."
As the anchor of the Writing for Publication class, an online newspaper, “The Talbot Times” has been established where students can publish articles and receive comments and reactions from community members and their peers. Through the lesson "Persuading the Principal: Writing Persuasive Letters About School Issues,” I realized I could help students develop their argumentative writing and generate material for the online newspaper at the same time. After completing the lesson, students could meet in groups to suggest revisions and to decide which articles should appear in the online newspaper, requiring that students use their critical thinking and evaluative skills.
As another component to the Writing for Publication course, I plan to incorporate the strategies put forth in the article “Motivating Young Writers Through Write-Talks: Real Writers, Real Audiences, Real Purposes.” The strategy of the write-talk is similar to that of the book-talk, which I have used in the classroom for years to motivate young readers to explore new texts. Write-Talks involve having people from the community, journalists, grant writers, physicians, chefs, come in and talk to students about how they use various forms of writing in their daily lives. When students see people beyond the educational realm using writing as a tool, they can begin to understand how the writing skills that they hone today will be useful to them in years to come. ReadWriteThink.org continues to be a site that I turn to as I search for new ways to create lessons that are rigorous and relevant to my students!
Grades 6 – 8 | Lesson Plan | Standard Lesson
Students learn that you don’t have to raise your voice to raise a point. Writing a persuasive letter to your principal is a great way to get your opinions heard.
Grades 6 – 12 | Professional Library | Journal
This article describes the use of "write-talks," brief motivational talks designed to engage students in writing.
This middle school newspaper is written and edited by students.
This worksheet can be used to demonstrate how different elements can lead you into a story.
What is a Lead?
This worksheet, created by Lisa Rank, is used in her classroom to teach leads.
Lisa Rank teaches at Easton Middle School in Easton Maryland, where she lives with her husband, her two children, her cat Puck, and her dog Hunter. She serves on the Writing Committee for Talbot County Public Schools and has served as a judge for the "Talbot County Library Poetry Contest." She represented the Language Arts Department of Easton Middle School this summer, attending the Educator Effectiveness Academy as a part of the federally-funded Race to the Top Initiative. She formerly worked as a copy editor for science publications and has written articles for local newspapers, including "The Baltimore Sun."