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Teaching Writing in the Middle School Classroom*
 
Course Description
    

In today’s middle school writing classroom, the pressures to achieve state and national standards are overwhelming for students and teachers alike. Many classrooms focus so completely on writing the perfect essay that the fun of writing wanes. In this workshop, participants will examine two common essay types—informative and persuasive—as they are approached in several non-traditional ways. To complement these alternative ways of teaching these two essay types, this workshop will also re-examine the writing process, writing motivation for teachers and students, and formative evaluation methods for writing progress. The end result of this work is a final lesson plan for an informative or persuasive essay that utilizes a creative approach in its instruction. It is the overall goal of this workshop to rekindle motivation and creativity in middle school writing instruction to help teachers and students have some fun on their journey toward the perfect essay.

*This course was designed for participants who are currently teaching in a middle school or who have previous experience teaching in an middle school.

 
Course Syllabus
    

In today’s middle school writing classroom, the pressures to achieve state and national standards are overwhelming for students and teachers alike. Many classrooms focus so completely on writing the perfect essay that the fun of writing wanes. In this course, participants will examine two common essay types, informative and persuasive, as they are approached in several non-traditional ways. To complement these alternative ways of teaching these two essay types, this course will also re-examine the writing process, writing motivation for teachers and students, and formative evaluation methods for writing progress. The end result of this work is a final lesson plan for an informative or persuasive essay that utilizes a creative approach in its instruction. It is the overall goal of this course to rekindle motivation and creativity in middle school writing instruction to help teachers and students have some fun on their journey toward the perfect essay.

Goals and Objectives

During this course, participants will learn skills and strategies to:

Understand the classroom implications of several NCTE standards pertinent for middle school writing

Explore new ways to motivate students and teachers to write

Familiarize themselves with two common middle school essay styles--informative and persuasive--and learn new ways of teaching them

Examine their own writing processes

Revisit the writing course, including pre-, during-, and post-writing, through the lens of motivational strategies

Utilize technology writing resources when appropriate

Discover evaluation techniques that will promote writing as a continual process

As a final product, participants will create an innovative lesson plan that incorporates the writing and motivational strategies learned in this course to help students write an informative or persuasive essay.

Audience

This course is intended for teachers of grades 5/6-8, ELA coaches, technology specialists, curriculum specialists, and professional development specialists. Participants are expected to have regular access to computers and be proficient with email and web-browsing.

Course Details

This course is divided into seven one-week sessions: an Orientation, and six content-based sessions. Each content session includes readings, activities, and an online discussion among course participants. The time for completing each session is estimated to be between four and six hours, and the total amount of time required for the entire course is estimated to be 30 hours.

Session One: Introduction to the Standards

Session Two: Motivation and Writing Prompts

Session Three: The Informative Essay

Session Four: The Persuasive Essay

Session Five: Formative Evaluation

Session Six: Plan Implementation and Publication of Student Works


Assessment

Readings and Activities 

Participants are expected to complete the required course readings and activities as posted in each of the session assignment pages. Optional readings may also be completed, but are not mandatory.

Discussion Participation

Participants will be evaluated weekly on the frequency and quality of their participation in the discussion forum. Participants are required to post a minimum of one substantial original posting each session in response to the discussion prompt for that session by Sunday evening. Participants are to respond thoughtfully to a minimum of two colleagues' original postings each session by Monday evening. They are to read all original messages by course participants and enough additional responses to make a total of 50% of the messages posted for that session by Tuesday evening. Postings will be evaluated on their relevance, demonstrated understanding of course concepts, examples cited and overall quality. 

Course Activities

Participants are expected to complete the course readings and activities as posted in each of the session assignment pages. Activities may include exploring websites related to course content, watching online video clips, using specific technology applications, solving problems, and working on the final project. The time for completing each session is estimated to be 6.5 to 7 hours weekly plus additional time to complete the final course project instructional plan. 

Final Project
As a final project, participants will develop and implement a unit plan for a writing assignment, including writing prompts and activities for both narrative and expository writing, a revision plan, and plans for publishing student work.  It will be assessed using the final project rubric.

Copyright
Copyright guidelines are to be observed throughout the course project and all course activities. All work associated with the course project is to be the original work of the course participant. Fair Use does not apply to the course project.

Grades
All grades in the course gradebook must be a "C" for successful course completion. A grade of "C" indicates that all work has been completed and the work meets the expectations for that assignment. 
The grade scheme for this course will be:
C = all work meets the guidelines provided
I = the work submitted is incomplete and/or does not meet the guidelines provided
N = no work has been submitted 

Course Quizzes and Surveys
Participants are expected to complete an orientation quiz with a score of 90% or higher and an Orientation survey by Sunday during the Orientation session of the course, and a Final Survey by Sunday during Session Six.

Certificate of Completion
Upon successful completion of this course, Teaching Writing in the Middle School Classroom, participants will receive a Certificate of Completion documenting successful completion of the course requirements. Certificates are distributed to each qualifying participant via email and certificates are placed into the Final Project Dropbox shortly after the completion of the course.

Non-degree Graduate Credit Information
Participants in this course are eligible to receive non-degree graduate credits from either West Virginia University, Marshall University, West Virginia State University or Concord University. Credits will be awarded at the end of the semester in which the course occurs. Additional information is available on the course News/Welcome Page.

Standards
Participants will identify specific WV Next Generation Standards as they address content within this course. The NxG Standards may be located by searching a http://wveis.k12.wv.us/Teach21/public/ng_cso/NG_CSO.cfm?tsele1=1, or the entire list may be accessed at http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/policy.php?p=2520.1A.  In addition, participants will also identify WV 21st Century Learning Skills and Technology Tools Content Standards and Objectives at http://wvde.state.wv.us/policies/policy.php?p=2520.14.

In addition, this course will help participants meet the following ISTE Educational Technology Standards and Performance Indicators for All Teachers: [show]

2. Design and Develop Digital-Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the NETS•S. Teachers

5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
Teachers continuously improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources.

For more information about Technology Integration visit: http://www.iste.org

About this Course

This course was developed by EdTech Leaders Online at Education Development Center, in partnership with Alabama Public Television, and the e-Learning for Educators project, funded by a US Department of Education Ready to Teach grant. Alabama Public Television is the nation's first educational television network and is the lead agency coordinating the eight state E-Learning for Educators collaboration, comprised of state departments of education and public television stations in Alabama, Delaware, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The contents do not necessarily represent the policies of the Department of Education and you should not assume endorsement by the Federal Government.

EdTech Leaders Online provides capacity building training and online courses for school districts, state departments of education, and colleges and universities.

Last update: December 2014

© 2011 Education Development Center, Inc., through its project, EdTech Leaders® Online, http://www.edtechleaders.org. All rights reserved.