We started today's strand with a Quick Write. Unfamiliar with Quick Writes? They are exactly as they sound. In my classroom, they look like this:
- I assign a prompt.
- I set the timer for two to five minutes.
- Students are expected to write the entire time.
- There is no focus on writing rules. The goal is to get any thoughts down on paper.
- If students get stuck, they write the last word they wrote over over over over over over over until they get unstuck.
I love this strategy because it get students thinking and provides an opportunity to write without the pressure of rules and regulations like spelling and punctuation.
Our AVID Quick Write assignment was to discuss something difficult we learned how to do. Prior to our writing, the instructors shared their own writing and stories. Modeling is essential for all students, not just ELLs. I usually write for my classes because I never know what random ideas will pop in my brain, and I often try to show frustration and thought processes for them.
The way we wrote and used the writing today reminded me of drinking a protein shake after a hardcore work out. It was refreshing and rejuvenating.
Enhancement #1: Sentence Frames
- I use sentence frames and starters in my classroom all the time, but I never thought about using them for a Quick Write. The frame provided, however, clearly provides structure for those who do not know where to begin or end:
- Frames are designed to provide structure but are not necessarily meant to be followed word for word. Students, like me, can modify for personal needs. Having just blogged about my frustration with Zumba, I was able to describe my ongoing learning and desire to accomplish the flamenco.
- This enhancement helps meet the writing needs for ELA, ESL, and AVID.
Enhancement #2: Discussion
- Pick a partner.
- Choose who will be Partner A and Partner B.
- Partner A reads his/her Quick Write while Partner B actively listens. Active listening instructions- maintain eye contact, nod your head, communicate interest non verbally - and speaking skills - adjust volume for the listener, maintain eye contact - were provided by the instructors.
- Partner B has 30 seconds to ask for clarification and/or paraphrase.
- Partner B then writes down a few notes about Partner A's story.
- The partnership is reversed and repeated.
- The Partner As then stand, move around the room, and find a new partner B.
- The steps are repeated.
I have used Quick Writes for discussion but not like we did in today's strand. I have not considered giving instructions regarding speaking and listening skills, but once we practiced this routine, I realized how much our students actually need it. Most have no idea how to be effective listeners and speakers because no one has ever told them that they need to be. One participant asked, unconnected to Quick Writes specifically, how we can use the AVID ELL strategies in all content areas. Quick Writes are incredibly flexible. You can have students write about anything to share prior knowledge or to review what they are learning. I see numerous possibilities with this routine. This enhancement meets writing, listening, and speaking skills for ELA and ELLs, in addition to collaboration for AVID.
In addition to meeting ELA, ELL, and AVID essentials, I jotted down a few things that came up in the debriefing discussion that I found to have great value in the classroom:
- The Quick Write process allows students to take ownership of their ideas and thoughts. Simply by putting them on paper, students are learning that their thoughts are valuable.
- By sharing with classmates, we are building classrooms of trust and honesty and showing respect for others. These are not the easiest concepts to "teach" because they do not come listed in a textbook.
The whole reason I started this blog was to reflect (an AVID skill) upon my own growth and learning. I particularly want to share in instances like this, when a simple idea like a Quick Write can become so much more meaningful than a two to five minute writing exercise.