Writing Through the Tween Years
Supporting Writers, Grades 3-6
Bruce Morgan with Deb Odom
No longer children, but not yet teenagers, tweens are beginning to see themselves as autonomous entities while struggling to understand where they fit in. Many teachers of 8-to-12 year olds find this to be an awkward period as well, as a new emphasis on testing in the upper elementary grades pushes many of them to virtually abandon writer's workshops in favor of assigning formula writing and prompts in hopes of raising test scores. This emphasis on test preparation dilutes the quality of writing programs in the upper elementary grades and allows little time for teachers to build on the emerging competencies and personalities of tweens. Facing this dilemma in their own school, the authors describe how they and their colleagues regained joy in their teaching of writing and celebrate the unique voices of writers in grades 3 to 6.
- Author: Bruce Morgan with Deb Odom
- ISBN: 978-157110-406-9
- Media: 160 pp/paper
- Grade Range: 3-6
- Item No: WEB-0406
"It's not easy being a tween. A lot of us are either in a tunnel or a bridge. A lot of us don't know who we are. Instead of following Barney's advice, we end up doing what popstars do."
—Kelley, age 10
No longer little children, but not yet teenagers, tweens are beginning to see themselves as autonomous while still struggling to understand where they fit in. It can also be an awkward time for teachers who cherish the hilarious and poignant personalities of tween writers, but feel pressured by a new emphasis on testing in the intermediate grades. Many teachers have virtually abandoned writers' workshops in favor of formula writing and prompts, even though these workshops may be essential for understanding the emerging competencies and personalities of eight- to twelve-year-olds.
Bruce Morgan and Deb Odom teach together at a school where formula writing and test preparation led to stagnant writing scores, student boredom, and teacher discouragement. They worked with their colleagues in grades 3–6 to make some dramatic changes in their collective writing instruction. These changes included a return to their roots as writing workshop teachers, but with new twists. The teaching staff drew up new common standards for writing assessment and achievement. The revised writing programs also involved integrating insights from reading strategy instruction with a renewed emphasis on the basics of writers' workshop: student choice, teacher modeling, revision, and using quality children's literature as mentor text.
Writing Through the Tween Years documents how teachers can get back to the joys of teaching writing in a literature-rich, thoughtful environment. There may be no better way to understand and reach tween writers.
Table of Contents
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Foreword by Ellin Keene
Part I: Writing Essentials
1. Understanding Tween Writers
3. Planning and Strategy Instruction
Part II: Mentoring Tween Writers
4. Living Books
5. Modeling Writing
6. Mentor Texts
Part III: Sanity in a Test-Crazed World
7. Jump-Starting Quality Standards
8. Writing Beyond Narrative: Genre Studies
9. Tackling Spelling and Punctuation