Learning to Write in Middle School?

Insights Into Adolescent Writers' Instructional Experiences Across Content Areas


  • Joshua Fahey Lawrence,

  • Emily Phillips Galloway,

  • Soobin Yim,

  • Alex Lin


Despite the emphasis on increasing the frequency with which students engage in analytic writing, we know very little about the ‘writing diet’ of adolescents. Student notebooks, used as a daily record of in-class work, provide one source of evidence about the diversity of writing expectations that students face. Through careful examination of the notebooks written by four middle-graders in 12 content area classrooms (290 texts), the present study help us to understand the ways in which these writers were acclimatized in one school year to the norms of writing in these diverse disciplinary contexts. In particular, results of this study suggest that adolescent writers may be afforded little opportunity to produce cognitively challenging genres, such as analytic essays. Notably, in content area classrooms, students engaged in very little extended writing.