I have done numerous writing activities in my middle school classrooms. I have done
1. written self-reflections about the project (use of elements and principles, use of media, particulary creative things they accomplished, what they would change etc.)- not graded, but used to help me figure out the grade.
2. Writing that is displayed with the project as "part" of the art. Specifically I do this with a Cornel box project focusing on a hero in their lives. They write about the person, the objects in the box, the design elements.- graded as ½ the project using a rubric
3. Weekly written journals focusing on artworks by other artists. These are a half page they have to answer one of five questions (going from lowest level blooms taxonomy to highest level) and justify their opinions. I give points for length (a difficult thing to get from them) thoroughness of answer, and how well they supported their opinion using the artwork.
4. Actual research reports about artists, or the rainforest or ocean when we create it as a class. We recently built a replica of a Idirod sled and dog team and they had to research and write about it before we began the building.- sometimes graded as a project grade or sometimes just fact finding that is not graded but is referred to as we create.
5. We do poetry and stories and incorporate the writing into pieces.
Hope these ideas help. There was an enormous amount of resistance from students, parents, and administration when I started, but by now they all just expect writing as part of art.
Sarai in Mich