Beginning Of The Year Quickwrites and Freewrites

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SWBAT practice quick writes and free writes to develop thinking skills.

Big Idea

Quick writes: let the pencil be the guide.

Quick write and free writes resources

43 minutes

During the school year, students will be writing various formal writing pieces as well as writing 2 to 4 pages in their notebooks each week. Both of these, while very different, can be challenging for students. Not many of them have the stamina to do this. Besides finding the initial spark of writing, the other struggle students have is developing their thinking, no matter the topic. One way that helps to combat this is the use of quick-writes and free-writes. Using them is a great way for students to write, regardless of a grade or final product. It gives them the freedom to explore a topic without worrying about a final judgement. Early in the school year, I use different quick-writes and free-writes to foster student productivity with writing. The hope is that once students feel comfortable with this type of writing they can then move on to longer pieces.

The quick writes and free writes listed below are ones that I have great success with. They tend to be successful as they focus on the student themselves. They use their past experiences, interests, and likes to complete them.

  • Rambling Autobiography: This is probably my favorite one. Students are required to ramble, something they do so well, about themselves. I picked this up from Quickwrites by Linda Rief. Here is an student example: Rambling Autobiography Student Example
  • Where I'm From by George Ella Lyon. A fantastic poem using concrete objects and items to describe her background. Students latch on to this idea quickly. Here is an example: Where I'm From Student Example
  • How To Live: A great piece to use to think about what's important in life. Students love the variety of examples he brings up. Here is a student example: How To Live Student Example
  • "Funny You Should Ask (page 1): By Rick Reilly from Guys Read. Asks the question of why we are here. Students struggle a little with exploring this concept, but once the get it, the writing is great. One suggestion is to use this with higher level thinkers. Boys do enjoy the focus on sports.

This Quickwrites Student Examples video discusses what I would look for and focus on as I review some student examples.

I usually use one per class period. I read the piece and students follow. Students then are instructed to write their own piece using each as a model. Since each of the pieces vary in the structure and format, students are exposed to types of writing as well. The reading of the piece and the actually writing is given about 5-6 minutes in total. These are done in the beginning of the class as we are working on the rest of the unit. I encourage students to complete them for their 2-4 pages for their week. They can choose which ones to complete if they are not able to get them done during class.

The students are surprised by how much they enjoy these quick-writes. It's always great to see when a student enjoys writing. I think part of that is thanks to the nature of them. There is not clear right or wrong answer, especially since they are not graded, and students can have fun with them. Imagine that. Fun when it comes to writing, who knew?