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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Speed Drafts

Before I move on to today's topic, let me follow-up on my Power Writing post:

  • This was a continued success with my academic students. The best response I heard all day was a whispered, "This is aaaaaawesome." In addition, I heard requests for more rounds. 
  • One of my science colleagues (anonymous shoutout) used Power Writing with her students today as a review of academic terms. We are both part of our Texas Literacy Initiative Campus Based Leadership Team, and we are working on reading and writing skills in all classrooms. The teacher provided this feedback: "They LOVE this. I was afraid they wouldn't buy in to writing in science but they did and then some!! Thank you" 

The power rounds were used in anticipation of a personal narrative writing assignment. Traditionally, in assigning a personal narrative, I would model brainstorming and Thinking Maps planning before approaching a rough draft. This time I decided to try something different based on informal observations. The  biggest issue the kids have is getting started, and the more time they are given, the more time they will take. Well, I am not into wasting time (at least not too much; we all need our moments). 

Extending on my Power Writing lesson, today I added Speed Drafts. After presenting the topic and giving the kids a few minutes to discuss their ideas with one another, I provided them with a very limited amount of time to write as much as they could about their topic - 5 minutes for Pre-AP; 7 minutes for academic. By no means did I expect them to have a completed draft. Working with a time limit, however, ensured that they had something written with which we can work on skills such as elaboration, clarification, complex sentences, and basic editing. 

I did expect some grumbling, but what I did hear was about hand cramps. I have never seen my students write so much in one day, nor have I seen them exhibit such pride in accomplishing a small feat for the day. One student came up to me with a huge smile and said, "Miss. I wrote 260 words. Can you believe it?"

I would not have believed any of it had I not seen it with my own eyes. I set a personal goal to challenge my students more this year, and this small victory ensures me that I am doing the right thing for them and for me. 

Tomorrow, rewriting without looking!

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