When I started my first job as a professional newspaper reporter (This job also served as an internship during my junior year in college — I just didn’t leave for about 6 years.), I quickly realized that all my experience, and all my years of journalism education had not been enough to help me write stories about drug busts, fatal car accidents and tornadoes. All the theoretical work I’d done, and all of the nifty little scholastic and collegiate stories I had done, did not prepare me for real world writing.
At that point, I had to find a solution quickly. After all, I had a deadline to meet, and it was only a few hours away.
One of my colleagues, who also served as a mentor, had the solution. She introduced me to the newspaper’s “morgue.” This was a room filled with filing cabinets in which we kept old — dead — stories arranged by reporter. Whenever I wasn’t’ sure how to write a story, all I had to do was check the morgue for similar stories. If I needed to write a story about a local drug bust, for example, I’d find another story on a similar incident, study its structure, and mentally create a formula in which to plugin the information I’d gathered.
Once I’d gained more experience, and had internalized the formula for that particular type of story, I felt free to branch out as the situation — and my training — warranted.
I do the same thing when I want to write a type of letter, brochure, or report that I’ve never written before.
This is what writing looks like in the real world.
Research by “Write Like This” author Kelly Gallagher indicates that if we want students to grow as writers, we need to provide them with good writing to read, study, and emulate. My personal experience backs this up, as does the old adage “all writing is rewriting,” oft quoted by everyone from LA screenwriters to New York Times bestselling authors.
Of course, if you’re a new teacher like me, there is one problem with providing mentor texts to my students: I have a dearth of middle school level writing sitting around in my file cabinets.
Fortunately, the Internet is full of sources, so I scoured the bowels of Google to find examples. I know how busy you are, so I’m sharing.
Expository writing examples for middle school
Below are several sources of expository writing samples for middle school students.
Finally, here is an article in the New York Times that will help you teach your students real-world expository writing skills.
Descriptive writing examples for middle school
Narrative writing examples for middle school
Argumentative/persuasive writing examples for middle school
Reflective writing examples for middle school
If you know of any other online writing example sources, please feel free to share them in the comments below.
I am a secondary English Language Arts teacher, a University of Oklahoma graduate student, and a NBPTS candidate. I am constantly seeking ways to amplify my students’ voices and choices.
Filed Under: PedagogyTagged With: writing examples, writing samples
5 Fresh 8th Grade Persuasive Essay Topics
Finding a fresh topic for a persuasive essay can be challenging. It may seem that all possible subjects have already been discussed in full detail, but there is still a way to stand out with your paper if you pay attention to the recent trends in the world around us.
Below, there are five generic examples of fresh persuasive essay topics. All are simple and “adult” enough for 8th grade students. You can use any of the bullet points as a starting point for your argument, or do your own research to pick another interesting question related to this topic.
Digital Technology in School Education
- Should we totally replace print textbooks with their digital analogues?
- Should schools provide free tablets and laptops for students to use in the classroom?
- Should teachers follow their students on Facebook?
- Are computer labs obsolete in schools today?
- Should the use of mobile devices in classes be banned?
Recent Advancements in Teenage Brain Research
- Does intelligence depend more on environmental factors than on genetics?
- Should your teachers give more consideration to the peculiarities of the teenage brain when planning their courses?
- Can computer games facilitate teenage brain development?
- Can overuse of the Internet cause problems with academic studies?
- Is it good to start school at a later age than we do today?
Student Safety Online
- Is there a completely safe way to use Facebook and other social media?
- Should school computers have an internet filter?
- Should cyber bullies be punished by school authorities? Does it contradict the First Amendment that guarantees every person’s freedom of speech?
- Should parents control the behaviors of their teenage sons or daughters on the Web?
- Can you prevent people from posting videos or other information about you without your permission?
Controversial Issues in School
- Should a principal allow a controversial music group to perform at a school dance if the majority of students want it?
- Is it good to prohibit wearing T-shirts with controversial writing in school?
- Should baked products be excluded from your school lunch menu?
- Should students be given more food choices on the lunch menu?
- Should any kinds of extreme sports be offered in schools?
Cold Water Challenge
- Do teenagers need permission from their parents to participate in Cold Water Challenge?
- If you were challenged, is it better to accept it or simply donate to the cause?
- Should those who accept the challenge be criticized for using it as an opportunity to self-promote?
- Should possible adverse effects to your health stop you from participating?