Kittle/ Gallagher in middle school, ELA classroom

I'm writing to learn if there are any other educators out there who struggle with putting the ideas of Penny Kittle and Kelly Gallagher into the middle school, ELA classroom? I absolutely agree with everything I've heard them say and what I've read from their books, but I struggle to put their ideas into working routines, mainly the writing ideas.  I do have independent reading, and I am comfortable with how that is graded. And I do provide mentor texts and try to (in an organic way) take apart author pieces for close study to aid my students in their own writing processes. What I lack is a working curriculum to draw from and a day to day routine to use for writing (or weekly routine). Middle schoolers need routine ... so I am putting this post out there to see if there are any responses. Thank you!

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  • Hi Elizabeth ,

    Yes, I struggled to put these expectations to good use within the 30 to 35 student classrooms in my middle school classrooms. I can give you a little bit of my journey and what I learned along the way. 

    I taught in the reader’s writers workshop model for the whole time I was an ELA/SS teacher. For most of that time, I worked with 7th and 8th-grade students building their literacy skills through a combination of reading and writing units of study. At the last district I worked at, they bought a comprehensive curriculum called SchoolWide.  I would recommend looking at their 2021 Literacy Sampler to see how their lessons and units of study are structured. My experience lies in the thematic readers/writers workshop units for middle school students.  The fundamental units helped to create a routine and expectations for all the units of study.  It focused on the writing process from the perspective of always editing. It included supporting documentation about setting up your class expectations and personalizing the writer’s notebook. On that same note, I have also heard that MyPerspectives by Savvas Learning Company (formerly knowns as Pearson K-12 Learning Company). Has extensive supportive material and resources for facilitating these types of lessons and units for your middle school students.


    Before having access to the SchoolWide curriculum and the professional development that went along with it, I also attempted to get on board with the readers/writers workshop model on my own.  I started by reading George Hillocks Jr.’s book Teaching Argument Writing, Grades 6-12: Supporting Claims with Relevant Evidence and Clear Reasoning, which started my journey in the distinct difference between persuasive writing and research-based argumentative writing “In a persuasive essay, you can select the most favorable evidence, appeal to emotions, and use style to persuade your readers.  Your single purpose is to be convincing.  The same might be said of propaganda and advertising” (Preface, Hillocks), which is a concept that as an educator, you have to demonstrate clearly to middle school students.  The next steps in my learning journey were to take part in a year-long with the Puget Sound Writing Project institute. This regional institute followed the same expectations of the National Writing Project, which follows the assertion that if educators are going to teach writing, they need to spend some time writing themselves. The most significant “aha moment” for me during this institute was establishing my writing routines and translating them into the classroom. 


    Please reply if you want to know anything else.  Good Luck!

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