One of the best strategies for developing writing fluency and reading comprehension skills is the Quickwrite. Also called entry or exit slips, these formative assessments allow students to respond to a text question in an open format. Formative assessments are generally conducted throughout a unit to measure progress and evaluate student performance. Quickwrites are an excellent way for teachers to verify what a student is learning, and tailor their instruction accordingly.
One way to do this is called “the muddiest point,” where students write a quickwrite explaining what they don’t understand from that day’s lesson.
There are many ways to execute a quickwrite, but usually teachers provide an open-ended question on a slip of paper to each student. Some teachers prefer to write the question on the board in front of the class. The teacher then gives students a specific amount of time—anywhere from two to ten minutes– to respond in writing. Some teachers provide a ticking timer with an alarm, as it helps students pace themselves. Make sure you emphasize to students that grammar and spelling are not important in this exercise.
When time’s up, all students must stop writing, even if it is mid-sentence. That’s because Quickwrites are generally used to gauge feedback about the amount of material a student can remember quickly, before, during or after reading.
When the Quickwrite is complete, teachers can offer up an ideal response to the question posed, although, this is not always necessary. Providing an example does help students evaluate for themselves what they do and do not know about the text: an inherent benefit to this assessment tool– it can serve both teacher and student.
Some of the best quickwrites occur when students are invested in the question. This is done by including a hook that students are interested in. For example, if you want students to think about the importance of dialogue in a story, set up the quickwrite so that they create dialogue about something they care about:
Elementary students might dialogue about two people observing a parade. “Describe what you and your mother would say to each other while watching the Thanksgiving Day parade.”
Secondary students might dialogue about a friendship issue. “Write a discussion between two friends who disagree about going to a dance.”
A related tool to have on hand is Scholastic’s helpful book of Quickwrite examples for Grade Five and up that gets students writing. (Linda Rief, 100 Quickwrites. New York: Scholastic, 2003).
Anxiety-prone students may have trouble writing under pressure at first, but will get used to the drill over time. You can allay stress by reminding students that these activities are not graded. In the beginning of the year, it helps to allow students to use their notes or textbooks.
Teachers who use this strategy frequently say it is a great way to do many things in a very short amount of time. Quickwrites allow students to practice writing and critical thinking skills as a low-stakes activity without the burden of grade anxiety.
The versatility of Quickwrites are many…teachers can use them for
- Reading comprehension quizzes, across curriculum
- Triggering prior knowledge for scaffolding
- Warming up the reading and writing muscles
- Promoting reflection about key concepts
- Prompting class discussion
- Reinforcing vocabulary, across curriculum
- Practicing reviewing and synthesizing material covered in class,
And much more! Tell us how you use Quickwrites effectively with your students.
For more excellent ideas to boost comprehension in your classroom, grab our FREE Comprehension Guide, today!