3 Ways To Motivate Middle School Writers


Three simple ideas to motivate middle school writers that get BIG results!

My middle school students don't seem to care for writing.  They think it's an arduous task.  When I ask them why they think it's arduous, the most common responses are:

"The texts are boring."

"It takes a lot of time."

"It's hard to remember the steps or how to use the steps."

It makes sense then, that students are not motivated to write when they feel lost.  So while the first two complaints are not something I can always fix, however, the last one is something I can definitely help with and hopefully increase motivation as a result!

1.  Use mnemonics to aid in memory retention.

To help students remember the structure of an essay, I use a special mnemonic:

Using a mnemonic for essay writing helps middle school students find their way through the course of an essay.

HAT for introductions

H- Hook
A - Arch (transition)
T - Thesis

"Just like you put a hat on the top of your head, you put a hat on the top of your essay!"

ACEIT for body paragraphs

A - answer to the prompt with one reason from the thesis
C - Cite evidence
E - Explain with commentary (elaboration)
I - Ingeminate (a fancy word that means repeat) Repeat the cycle of cite and explain with new evidence
T - Top it off with a conclusion

"If we remember this mnemonic, we will sure 'ace it' when we write our essay!"

FAUCET for counterclaim paragraphs

F - Feature the other side (the opposing claim)
A - Affirm the opposing claim (with evidence)
U - Underscore the essay's position (refuting the opposing claim)
C - Cite evidence (for the essay's position)
E - Explian with commentary
T - Top it off with a conclusion

"This is called 'faucet' because this is where we 'turn the faucet up' or 'pour it on' in terms of making the case for our position in the essay."

ATT for conclusion paragraphs

A - Affirm the thesis (by restating it)

T - Trim the point (what's the main idea?)

T - The Call To Action

"What's the last thing you grab before you leave your house?  Your cell phone - your AT & T."


2. Use Anchor Charts

This might seem like a simplistic idea, but anchor charts work!  Every time I teach a part of the essay, I hang up an anchor chart.  Then I am sure to refer to it often.  

What I have found is that students will refer to them during class when they think no one is looking.  :)

Get FREE digital anchor charts for essay writing in middle school!

3.  Use Toolkits of Graphic Organizers

Every year, as I teach a part of the essay, I give students a little something for their "toolkits".  These ar actually just maila folders with all sorts of resources - things like outlines, sentence starters, and lists of words to use instead of "said".

Using toolkits of graphic organizers, sentence starters, and word lists helps middle school students become independent writers!

I also have students keep their essays in these folders.  We start with a model essay from the foundational lessons.  This is an essay we basically wrote together step-by-step using guided notes.  This way, they always have a model with which to refer.

These toolkits are always a huge hit in my classroom because when it comes time to do some independent work, they have a resource that they can (and must) reference first so that through the struggle, they learn.

But honestly, students like it when they "get it" and can see that they are making strides.  This is the kind of intrinsic motivation that we are looking for!

Want you own copy of the toolkit?  It's ready to go right here:

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Middle School Students are more motivated when they have what they need to be successful!