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It's not easy being a tween. A lot of us are either in a tunnel or a bridge. A lot of us don't know who we are. Instead of following Barney's advice, we end up doing what popstars do.
—Kelley, age 10
No longer little children, but not yet teenagers, tweens are beginning to see themselves as autonomous while still struggling to understand where they fit in. It can also be an awkward time for teachers who cherish the hilarious and poignant personalities of tween writers, but feel pressured by a new emphasis on testing in the intermediate grades. Many teachers have virtually abandoned writers' workshops in favor of formula writing and prompts, even though these workshops may be essential for understanding the emerging competencies and personalities of eight- to twelve-year-olds.
Bruce Morgan and Deb Odom teach together at a school where formula writing and test preparation led to stagnant writing scores, student boredom, and teacher discouragement. They worked with their colleagues in grades 3–6 to make some dramatic changes in their collective writing instruction. These changes included a return to their roots as writing workshop teachers, but with new twists. The teaching staff drew up new common standards for writing assessment and achievement. The revised writing programs also involved integrating insights from reading strategy instruction with a renewed emphasis on the basics of writers' workshop: student choice, teacher modeling, revision, and using quality children's literature as mentor text.
Writing Through the Tween Years documents how teachers can get back to the joys of teaching writing in a literature-rich, thoughtful environment. There may be no better way to understand and reach tween writers.
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About the Author
Bruce Morgan has been a classroom teacher in Douglas County (Colorado) Schools for 25 years, in various grade levels and roles: grades 3-6 teacher, gifted cluster classroom, literacy immersion classroom for 6 years, and district reading specialist for two years. He was a Cornerstone National Literacy Reform Project literacy consultant from 2001-2004, and has been a Public Education and Business Coalition (PEBC) participant and lab classroom teacher for many years.