middle school · remote learning · teaching tools · technology · toolkits · writing about reading · writing prompts · writing workshop

Writing About Reading: Building a Resource Toolkit for Middle School

It hasn’t been a regular summer. There was really only one thing I was pretty sure I could count on these past several months. That one thing was I would be teaching kids, in some capacity, when fall arrived.

As the summer rolled on, I did some reading and went head first into some adolescent learning. Having two teenage kids at home made it personal. I also had a real desire to do some work outside the elementary world I have lived in for over twenty years.

That leads me to share one of the units I created with distance learning in mind. I would love it if kids and teachers could benefit from this work using one of my favorite reads of the summer, Look Both Ways by Jason Reynolds.

Objectives First

Look Both Ways can be read chapter by chapter. As I read, I thought about the main objectives I would have if I were teaching adolescent readers and writers. In my learning, I had a great thought partner, a professor at my alma mater. She helped me center in on what adolescents genuinely need, and with her help, I was able to narrow the unit down to three foundational stepping stones.

  • Making meaningful lists
  • Generating and narrowing summaries
  • Crafting paragraphs that carry significance

Below is a set of standards and statements that helped drive the unit as I read, wrote, and revised how I wanted to take students on a reading and writing journey through this fantastic text.

[Click image for a printable copy]

The Blank Resource Kit

Continuing with these objectives in mind, I found a Google Slides template that I had loved transforming for my third-grade learners this past spring. SlidesMania has some great digital notebooks. Making this my canvas, I created a ready-to-use toolkit, awaiting student work and ideas.

[Click the image for the full resource toolkit]

A Resource to Build On

I built the kit with small bits in mind. Little pieces of learning that could grow and be used and reused. My goal in building this toolkit was to support students in some heavy work, but with small pieces. We’d walk through it together, so they would have examples to carry them across the year as their independence grew.

Below are a few images of what I imagine that completed work might look like. I’ve also shared my “complete” model (linked to each image), which I would use as a guide for myself. However, ultimately I would build upon the work of students, side-by-side.

I’d love to hear what work you plan to do with students either virtually or in-person around the idea of writing about reading. How will you help students, of any age, do heavy work in small bits?


3 thoughts on “Writing About Reading: Building a Resource Toolkit for Middle School

  1. What a gift! Thanks so much. I have a few virtual 6th graders that I will use this unit with. I read Look Both Ways this summer. This unit is so well planned out to do big stuff in small bites. Just what I need. I’m sorry you won’t be able to use it this year. Good luck with your little ones. I’ll let you know how this unit goes. Thanks again!


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