6-8 Writing

In your group, please discuss the following questions and collaboratively write a response to each question below. Base your ideas on what you have read in Calkins and Graves and, when possible, cite pages that support your ideas.


At these grade levels, what does writing look like? What can students be reasonably expected to do?

Self-conscious is a word that comes up often in describing adolescent writing. Students are often writing in an attempt to understand themselves and where they fit into society. (p. 158)

What range of skills might a teacher expect to see in her/his writers?

A wide variety. At this stage, students will have all levels of ability and experience in writing.

What should teachers expect students to do for revision? When they offer peer response?

Instead of reading actual pieces, students often talk about their process, not their writings. Students at this age often respond well to this type of discussion rather than the self-conscious reading aloud of their works, no matter what stage they may be in.


At these grade levels, what role should the teacher play? In what ways might teachers respond to students' writing?

Teachers need to get students to care about something not necessarily about writing.
Teachers need to let the workshop play itself out, not keep students on a rigid time-table. (p. 166)
It is helpful to bond with the students at this age; ask questions about their interests and make appropriate adjustments to teacher demonstrations when possible. (p.168)

How could teachers use notebooks at these grade levels to support student writers?

Instead of simply picking apart grammar and spelling, teachers could use notebooks to help the students think more about their writing and the processes they are going through. A teacher might ask leading questions that may help a student focus in the right direction, or expand on a thought. Again, the purpose is to keep the student interested in something, not necessarily just writing.

About Calkins' and Graves' Philosophies

What assumptions do Calkins and Graves hold about teaching and learning? How is this similar to and different from your own experience at this grade level?