JMS Writing Lab

Melissa KellyMrs. Melissa Kelly
Writing Lab Clinician

Monday - Thursday, 7:45-3:35*
Friday 7:45 - 3:00
*The lab may be closed after school on occasion for meetings and/or events

Writing Lab News

Writing Lab Training Sign-Up

Writing Lab Volunteer Information

Mrs. Melissa Kelly, The Writing Lab Clinician, is an English teacher. She is available to help the students become familiar with the writing process and the strategies which will help them in their writing. In addition, the Writing Clinician will help the students utilize the available software to improve his writing and learning. However, the student will remain the author of his own documents.

Please remember that the Writing Lab is located in Room 102 and is available to all students and teachers. Full classes are scheduled to word process, revise, edit, and print writing projects. Any student may use the Lab for across-the-curriculum and personal writing.

What is the Purpose of the Writing Lab?

Each student who uses the Lab makes individual progress. Writing-to-learn opportunities are provided across the curriculum, and every child has the opportunity to grow and to experience success as a writer. Please exercise understanding as most teachers request that papers be processed in the Writing Lab rather than at home. This request maximizes the child's opportunity to take advantage of the writing strategies and the content expertise offered by the child’s teacher and the Writing Clinician. Processing, revising, and editing in the Lab demonstrate the child's understanding of the writing process. You may wish to help your child by conferencing with him at home. For most writing assignments, a conferencing sheet, which has been coordinated to the teacher's assignment and evaluation, is available.

Why Student Writing is Done in School

Parents sometimes ask, “What is the rationale behind middle level students completing their writing process activities in school?” Usually, students are permitted to take copies of their work home, and they are often encouraged to have revision and editing conferences with an adult as well as with a peer. However, most writing process assignments are word processed in school for several reasons.

  • More important than focusing on the product, students are focusing on practicing the writing process. As a result, teachers want to observe the process and offer strategies along the way.
  • A child learns from being physically involved with word processing text. More revision takes place if a child can word process, conference, revise, conference again, and edit as a circular, on-going process, a possibility if he is word processing in school and saving on the network.
  • If a child works at home, he may possess an “I-am-finished” attitude that undercuts a desire for deep revision, one of the most important goals. If the child does not work at school, moreover, the student is unable to participate in the strategies and resources offered for revision and editing.
  • Practicing the process in school offers students the opportunity to learn to be a part of a writing community, to collaborate, to conference, to suggest—qualities employed in real world writing.
  • Writing assignments are specifically targeted to teach particular skills which are outlined on a rubric and reinforced by the teacher and the writing clinician during the class and lab time.
  • Completing projects in school teaches valuable time management skills to middle level students.
  • Offering the children time to complete the writing in school avoids conflicts with the family computer and crises with the “untimely death” of the toner cartridge.

The Writing Tip Book

All students are encouraged to use the many writing resources in the Lab. For their convenience, a Writing Tip Book filled with word banks, revision strategies, works cited forms, editing rules, and formatting and computing guidelines is available at each computer. Each student will receive a copy of the newly revised Writing Tip Book to take home and to keep. Students are encouraged to follow the directions for writing activities, not only to facilitate student Lab use but also to lead to better writing, the goal of the Jefferson Middle School Writing Lab.

Download The Writing Tip Book

Literary Magazine

Our Piece of Mind, Thomas Jefferson Middle School's literary magazine, gives students an opportunity to have their writing published. It is a collection of stories, poems, and essays contributed by sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade students. Every student at the middle school is invited to submit writing or to become an illustrator, typist, or member of the selection staff. The entries may evolve from class assignments or may be self-motivated pieces. At weekly selection staff meetings, submitted pieces are read, reviewed, and discussed without revealing the author's identity. The students then vote for excellent pieces deemed appropriate for publication in Our Piece of Mind. Student typists creatively type and design the selections. Finally, skilled student artists illustrate the pieces.

Our Piece of Mind is published each year in early June and is free to any student who requests a copy. Students involved in the publication are invited to a Writing Celebration at the end of the year to celebrate their hard work and to receive the first copies of the magazine.

The 2014-15 edition of Our Piece of Mind received an "Excellent" rating from NCTE, the National Council of Teachers of English.

Lab Assistants

Lab Assistants help in the Writing Lab throughout the year. They type documents, deliver papers, complete tasks for special events, and prepare the labs for classes. Any student may apply in the Writing Lab to be an assistant.


Jefferson Middle School
21 Moffett Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15243
(412) 344-2120

Mt. Lebanon School District

7 Horsman Drive

Pittsburgh PA 15228

Fax: 412-344-2047


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