Teaching Writing to Middle Graders

I've had an awesome opportunity, twice now. My mom's cousin's granddaughter LOVES to write. She is twelve years old and is really talented, actually. For her birthday, her grandma asked me to give her several one-on-one writing lessons, and I have to say, it's been a BLAST!

(Isn't that a great birthday gift?)

I wasn't sure how to go about it. Where should I start? I knew I wanted to do some free-writing with her, using prompts. I knew I wanted to cover the basics of characterization, description, dialogue, setting--it was all so much and I had no idea which one to start with! I also wasn't sure how much the girl already knew, so I asked some friends and they recommended this book to me:

First of all, I love Gail Carson Levine's writing! Her books are magical and fun, I loved Ella Enchanted, The Two Princesses of Bamarre, as well as her Tinkerbell books and Princess Tales. She's an all around brilliant author.

Writing Magic is geared toward middle graders who love writing! I would have gone crazy for a book like this growing up. She has prompts, she goes through all those basics that I was trying to figure out how to approach, she covers dialogue tagging and body language, using voice and descriptions, but it's all geared toward young writers, so it's at a level they can read, appreciate, understand, and apply. Most importantly, she encourages young writers to save everything they write.


I decided to share my latest free-write from this past session with my new writing friend. This is based on a prompt from Writing Magic. Enjoy!

And if you're looking for help for young writers, I'd definitely invest in Writing Magic!

Jason had never felt so foolish before, and he hoped he'd never feel so foolish again. All he'd wanted to do was talk to her. Why hadn't he stepped aside when he'd seen the boy coming?
It's a sure sign of disaster when a two-year-old has an ice cream cone. Make that a catastrophe when the kid trips and plunges right in your direction. Sure enough, the white ice cream had smeared all over Jason's new shirt and was currently turning his hands into those bug traps where the chances of releasing yourself from whatever you touch are impossible.
That was bad enough, but having it happen in front of Katie Haderly? The laughter from the rest of her friends still rang in his ears, and he could only imagine what he must look like. Still, the little boy stood crying over his fallen cone. Jason knelt beside him.
"Are you okay?" Jason asked, trying not to think about how sticky his hands were, covered in Vanilla Dream, or the way his shirt stuck to him.
Tears ran down the little boy's face as one of Katie's friends passed with a snide twist of her nose. Jason ignored the embarrassment climbing his cheeks. Somehow seeing how sad the boy was made his hands seem not so sticky anymore.


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