A quickwrite is a popular literacy strategy that can be used to promote writing fluency, encourage thoughtful reflection, and is a way for teachers to gain a better understanding of student thinking. Students are expected to respond within two to 10 minutes to a prompt or question with a thoughtful reply that connects to prior knowledge and previous learning. There are many engaging ways to make this simple, effective strategy work in your classroom.
Students can participate in quickwrites to:
- Make personal connections to the learning.
- Apply critical thinking skills.
- Synthesize previously mastered concepts.
- Gain a purpose for further reading.
- Organize ideas for writing.
- Develop new ideas.
- Reflect on key concepts.
To implement the quickwrite strategy into your instruction:
- Share with students the purpose of quickwrites in general and the specific goal of the current prompt. Make sure you explain that this is an informal writing application. Students should simply be responding by writing whatever comes to their minds. It isn't an exercise in organization or grammar. The student's thoughts, ideas, and voice are the focus.
- Give students a short amount of time (2-10 minutes, typically) to write uninterrupted. Monitor their work but don't interrupt their writing. As they proceed with the quickwrite don't address spelling, grammar, or other writing mechanics.
- When their writing session is over give students an opportunity to share their piece. Although you could have students engage in large group sharing, structuring the sharing into partners or small groups is more time effective. Prompt them to share one specific thing from their writing instead of simply reading the piece aloud.
This strategy has multiple applications across all content areas, and is especially beneficial at the beginning of the year to model reflection when you ask your students to recap their summer vacation. For years, students have been asked to write about their summer vacation as they return to school in the fall. Using the quickwrite strategy to extend this traditional activity can help students focus their thinking and gain experience with your writing expectations.
Ideas for your students’ summer vacation quickwrite:
- Write for six minutes about a specific place you visited this summer. It can be an out of town vacation spot, your favorite place to play, a local adventure location, or any other place you went this summer. Explain what you saw, what you heard, and what you smelled. Use vivid details to take the reader there.
- Write for eight minutes about something new you learned this summer. Did you master a new skill, begin a new hobby, read a new book? Think of one thing that you learned this summer and explain how you learned it and why it is important to you.
- Write for five minutes about a new person you encountered this summer. You might know this person's name, you might not. You may have spent days with this person, perhaps just minutes. Choose a person that you met this summer and explain the circumstances of the encounter.
- Write for ten minutes to compose a letter to your future self about your summer vacation. Choose your future self at a specific age or time. Maybe the end of this school year, the beginning of college, or perhaps at 50 years old. Tell yourself about the summer vacation that just ended. Think about what made your vacation unique: What was the best part? What did you learn? Who was important in your life? How did you feel about coming back to school?
What other quick writing strategies have you found to be successful with your students? We’d love to hear from you.