S.O.S: Quick Writes

Welcome to  Spotlight on Strategies Challenge!  Our S.O.S series  provides help, tips, and tricks for integrating DE media into your curriculum.

Quick Writes
PDF Version

Background
Often times the sight of a blank white page is daunting to students who are not confident in their writing skills. Quick writes are a simple literacy strategy used to develop writing fluency, to build the habit of reflection into a learning experience, and to informally assess student thinking. The purpose of the activity is for students to quickly formulate thoughts, ideas, and/or hypotheses without worrying about the element of structure.  The strategy asks learners to respond in 2–10 minutes to an open-ended question or prompt posed by the teacher before, during, or after reading.

Example

  • Explain to students that you will be showing them a short video segment about the career of an Electrical Engineer
  • As they watch they should not take notes and should only be focused on the content being displayed
  • Play the segment Electrical Engineer
  • Following the segment, ask students to take out a blank sheet of paper. Explain that they will have 60 seconds to write as many facts and/or adjectives about the segment.
  • After the 60 seconds have lapsed, ask students to turn to their neighbor and share what is on their list.
  • Now, provide students another 60 seconds to expand a few of their phrases or add additional facts based on something they learned from their partner.

Challenge

  • Select a video segment that matches your unit of study.
  • Play video segment for students.
    • OPTIONAL: You may also chose to unplug your speakers and/or mute the video so that all they see are the images and they do not hear the audio.
  • Following the segment, ask students to pull out a blank page.  Explain that they will have 60 seconds to write as many facts and/or adjectives about the segment.
  • After the 60 seconds have lapsed, ask students to turn to their neighbor and share what is on their list.
  • Now, provide students another 60 seconds to expand a few of their phrases or add additional facts based on something they learned from their partner.
  • You may want to collect these pages to look for misconceptions and use of academic vocabulary.
  • If this is the beginning of your unit, you may choose to follow this activity with creating a K-W-L chart.

You can take the challenge by:

  • Implementing this strategy and letting us know how it went by posting a comment below.
  • Using this strategies in your grade level planning discussions and/or professional development and reporting your events. (Remember we consider an event anytime 3 or more educators gather together… doesn’t have to be in a computer lab… could be sitting around the lunch table)
  • Photocopying the flier and distributing it in your colleague’s boxes and/or posting it to your own BulleDEN board.

So see other strategies in this series click here.  For a link to all the PDFs in this series click here

Comments

  1. Grace Sidell

    I really like this idea, especially when incorporating the KWL chart (or something like that) into the initial steps. We have found that Thinking Maps are a great organizational tool for students to get their ideas down on a page, so I had my kids create a Circle Map during their independent 60 seconds, then had them highlight ideas that were shared in common or write in additional facts/ideas that were discussed in their peer 2 minutes (I gave more time to share). I actually had my kids pair-share 3 different times, to build ideas and see what repetitive phrases recurred. In the end, I had students take information from their own Maps and write a brief paragraph about the topic. It turned into a great way to launch the chapter’s topics (Human Body Systems).

  2. Jannita

    Thanks for sharing Grace! I love your ideas! Send me an email with a picture of your students working and I can share your story with our community :) Jannita_Demian@discovery.com

  3. Shelly Harrington

    What a fun way to start a writing assignment. So much netter than saying, “Class… we are going to write an essay.”

  4. Shelly Harrington

    I like playing a song and white out some of the words (like all the adjectives) and then have students fill them in while they listen to the words. After, ask the students what all the words have in common and what the theme of the song is about. How does it relate to our theme?

  5. Kristen Klein

    I really like this idea! I use videos all the time in my history classes, but I have struggled with getting some of the students to engage with the video. Some see it as a time to checkout or sleep. Adding an assignment after is a great way to help with engagement, also this assignment in particular really helps with their listen and comprehension skills. I like that there is a time limit and that it is not formal writing. I have a few students who struggle to get started writing. They often know what they want to say, but struggle with the structure, so this would be really helpful to them.

  6. Jannita

    Great ideas Shelley and Kristen! Thanks for sharing! Let us know how it goes!

  7. Clare Devine

    Jannita,
    I’ve modified this a bit. I had students watch a video. While it played they had to write as many facts as possible. When needed I paused the video to help them catch up. Then we went around the room and each student shared and was assigned a fact. Once they had the facts, they lined up in front of the video camera and presented their fact. They could recite it or read it. Now the teacher has a video with students as the stars to review before the test. We did it on the Great Wall. Students actually listened to the facts 3 times in one period with 30 students.

    To add rigor the next meeting students had to create a question that their Quick Notes made them curious about or something they wanted clarified. Students could use other DE assets.

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