Students are expected to become more independent in their writing over the course of middle school. For some, this is a welcome challenge - for others, a daunting task.
We recently spoke with a middle school English teacher who uses MyloWrites as part of her writing curriculum to assist with teaching and perfecting the five-paragraph essay. By sharing her plan here, we hope to give those of our readers in the education space some ideas on how to use MyloWrites to help students master this stalwart of middle school and high school writing.
We should note that this is anything but scientific (at least, at this point). In the future, we hope to work closely with teachers to establish evidence-based research of our own on the effectiveness of MyloWrites. But for now, we believe that the following teacher anecdotes and ideas on applying digital tools to help students gain more fluency in writing will be both useful and inspirational to fellow educators. (P.S., if you want to work with us to test the efficacy of MyloWrites, please reach out!)
Sixth Grade: Introducing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Providing Structure
In sixth grade, students are expected to make the shift from more empathic, response based writing (think lots of “I” statements) to more focused, thesis-driven writing with textual relevance. This is a tough shift; the idea of supporting arguments with evidence is still abstract to sixth graders. To help students internalize the structure and requirements of a five-paragraph essay, one teacher used MyloWrites in a supported format (i.e., teacher guided) to help give students a framework for their essays. Because the thesis statement is always visible in MyloWrites, the students never lost their North Star and had a clear idea of how to link evidence back to the main point.
Seventh Grade: Gaining Fluency
Come seventh grade, students now have some experience with the five-paragraph essay, but most do not have fluency. One seventh grade teacher offered MyloWrites as a supplemental offering for students to use to gain more independence in their writing. She offered MyloWrites as one tool or method that students could use to support an independent writing project. The idea was to use MyloWrites to help “take off the training wheels” and complete the essay with far less direct involvement from the teacher. Students seemed to appreciate that they could choose from a variety of options, and MyloWrites provided structure and support for students to help them improve their writing.
Eighth Grade: Tools for the Future
By eighth grade, students must demonstrate mastery of the writing required by high school curriculum. Some students can likely organize an essay outline in their head and follow the writing structure without aid. For others, a tool like MyloWrites can help build confidence and skill in writing. And still, some students continue to struggle with writing; for them, the last semester of middle school is a great opportunity to introduce tools that can bring success in high school. These students can use the tool to ensure that their high school essays are coherent, to the point, and tightly constructed. According to one teacher who used our application in her eighth grade classroom, some students simply didn’t need the additional aid. Yet for those who did - particularly those who had a hard time translating their thoughts to paper- MyloWrites helped set them up for success on class essays and future writing assignments.
As you may have guessed, most of the students at this private middle school go on to study at a private or selective high school. The above examples are just some of many on how teachers can use MyloWrites to help teach the five-paragraph essay. What are your biggest challenges in teaching writing? Tweet or email your questions to @mylowrites or [email protected] and we’ll ask our learning experts for their ideas on what could help!