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Basic Writing Skills for Middle School

by Alison Lake, studioD

Learning basic writing skills in middle school is important to prepare students to reach the next level in high school. Common Core Standards have identified key writing skills that can help middle school students succeed and develop a solid foundation in writing.


Middle school students can learn to write effectively with a systemic curriculum that teaches sentence fluency, grammar skills and clarity of expression. Common Core Standards provide a comprehensive approach to English language arts for middle school students, including nonfiction writing skills.

Grammar, Spelling and Structure

Sentence and paragraph construction are key skills for middle school students to create writing projects such as essays, reports, stories and responses to texts. Grammar rules are also crucial. Students should master sentence mechanics, spelling, verb tenses, correct use of object and nominative case pronouns, punctuation use, correct capitalization, adverb and adjective use, prepositional phrases and conjunctions used to connect dependent and independent clauses.

Writing Process

The writing process is equally important as the mechanics of writing in that students use tools to develop a piece of writing from start to finish and follow a logical progression. The process includes planning and brainstorming, outlining and pre-writing, developing paragraphs and topic sentences, creating a rough draft, editing, proofreading and producing a final draft. Skill development should be combined with short descriptive writing tasks to provide daily reinforcement. Students who receive regular practice with the writing process will feel more comfortable with it and write more fluidly when called upon to produce an assignment or write for a test.

Critical Thinking

A final essential component of middle school instruction in basic writing focuses on developing critical thinking via writing skills. Writing draws on skills of planning and evaluation and often involves student response and expression regarding what they have learned in class. Conversely, writing is a tool for learning subject matter and is used broadly across the middle school curriculum as students digest and analyze new material. Basic writing skills on the middle school level should be developed with the entire curriculum in mind.

About the Author

Alison Lake has been a journalist and editor since 2001, working with numerous newspapers and magazines. She has served on the world news desk of the "Washington Post" and contributed to The Atlantic, Foreign Policy Online, Al Jazeera English and GlobalPost.

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