My students finished the nature watching and writing part of the unit, and I changed the culminating assignment from poetry to... a choice of writing and submitting a Diary of a Wimpy Kid style diary entry to our local newspaper or writing and submitting (where? still working on it) a poem. In either case, they must use poetry elements or literary techniques, such as alliteration, simile, metaphor, onomatopoeia, etc.
Students are typing their work on notebook computers in our classroom. Word processing is always an adventure with 6th and 7th graders! Despite their claims of being familiar with computers (i.e. IM or games), they need a lot of word processing practice.
I admit that writing with these students who already "struggle" with reading and writing is like pulling teeth. And I really don't want to be a dentist, but I feel compelled by their reluctance to MAKE THEM write MORE, not less. I want them to stop using AVOIDANCE to cope with their insecurity or lack of knowledge or lack of skill or whatever, and just PRACTICE. QUANTITY OVER QUALITY, because quality eventually shows up after MUCH quantity. So our next unit is the memoir. We'll read some together, such as Jerry Spinelli's Knots in my Yo-yo String, Walter Dean Myers' Bad Boy, and Esme Raji Codell's Sing a Song of Tuna Fish.
Yes, those readings will lead to student memoir writing, but I need a stronger hook. They've already done illustrated writings, so I need something else... not sure what...