Writing Buddies: The Writing/Teaching Life

Overview All writers crave an audience and appreciate constructive criticism. When middle schoolers become Writing Buddies to a group of third graders, they learn how to appreciate the work of young writers while sharpening their own editing skills. Using technology, students exchange writing and writing responses, and engage in thoughtful conversations about what constitutes good writing. The opportunity to engage a professional writer and educator in a Visiting Author Workshop opens doors to careers in writing and teaching.

Classroom Activities
Community Activities
Career Activities
Read about several writing models.
Investigate & practice editing skills.
Choose a writing response protocol.
Begin Reflection Journals.
Use classroom writing process strategies to prepare for Writing Buddies groups.
Use protocol to read, discuss & respond to Writing Buddies.
Plan & implement Visiting Author Workshop (Meg Campbell).
Prepare display for third grade Open House.
Identify third grade class & schedule writing/response exchange visits.
Use writing protocol to respond to third grade writers.
Model process of recording ongoing writing reflections.
Host Visiting Author Workshop.
Write press release describing workshop for school newsletter/local newspaper.
Present Writing Buddies display & answer questions at Open House.
Prepare for Visiting Author Workshop by reading selected poems from Solo Crossing by Meg Campbell.
Interview writer/educator Meg Campbell.
Conduct Internet research on other writers/educators (Billy Collins, Toni Morrison, Derek Walcott, etc.).
Organize classroom forum on writers who also teach.
Share information about writing & teaching careers with Writing Buddies.

Learning Standards English Language Art

Use knowledge of standard English conventions to edit various types of writing.
Recognize different types of writing for varied audiences.
Participate in formal & informal discussions.
Ask & answer concise, clear questions.
Give & accept constructive criticism.

School to Career Competencies

Develop Communication & Literacy Skills.
Organize & Analyze Information.
Use Technology.
Complete Entire Activities.
Act Professionally.
Interact with Others.
Take Responsibility for Career & Life Choices.

Assessment Students write reflections on their interactions with Writing Buddies and on the Visiting Author Workshop. Students use rubrics to discuss and evaluate writing.

Software or Materials Used For rubrics, responses and tips on editing: Writers Inc: A Student Handbook for Writing and Learning by Patrick Sebranek, 2000: Great Source Education Group Inc; Writers Express: A Handbook for Young Writers, Thinkers, and Learners by David Kemper, et al, 1995: Great Source Education Group Inc; For information of young children as writers: Kids' Poems: Teaching Third and Fourth Graders to Love Writing Poetry by Regie Routman, 2000: Scholastic Prof Book Div; If You're Trying to Teach Kids How to Write, You've Gotta Have This Book by Marjorie Frank, et al, 1995: Incentive Pubns; For examples of good writing by adolescents: Merlyn's Pen: Fiction, Essays and Poems by America's Teens Volume 2, ed. R.James Stahl, 1998: Merlyn's Pen Inc.

Web Sites The Write Source; The Academy of Amercian Poets; Education World Curriculum: Awesome Authors and Illustrator Visits; Boston Women's Heritage Trail

Keywords Service Learning, Mentoring, Literacy, Teaching Careers, Writing Buddies, Writers and Teachers, Poetry, Visiting Authors Workshop, Poetry Workshop

Final Words Writing Buddies helps older students become more proficient writers by reading and responding to the writing of other younger students. It offers an opportunity for middle schoolers to explore mentoring and to begin thinking about careers in writing and teaching.

Teacher Tip Careful choice of cooperating site is a must when setting up a cross-school project! Connecting with an author who knows the community is another plus.

E-mail contact Maggie Lodge mlodge@boston.k12.ma.us

Teacher Bio Maggie Lodge has been a teacher and administrator in middle and high school for thirteen years. She currently teaches 7th grade Humanities at the John W. McCormack School in Dorchester. She was a founding teacher at the Harbor School, a Boston Public pilot middle school. Prior to working in Boston, Maggie was the director of the Pathway School at Chelsea High School, an RJR Nabisco Next Century School serving former high school dropouts.

Subject Areas English Language Arts, Humanities

Grade Levels 7 - 9

Students Partnerships between third graders and middle schoolers

Return To Index Page