The 11 Minute Essay
A Campus Wide Writing Initiative: Two Essays Per Six Weeks
How Do I Come Up with Prompts?
This is the basic structure for every 11-Minute Essay:
And, as you saw when you wrote your own 11-Minute Essay, the minutes were broken down like this:
- Students react to the truism = 1 minute
- Students connect their belief about this truism to something they've read = 3 minutes
- Students connect their belief about this truism to something they've seen in a movie or show = 3 minutes
- Students connect their belief about this truism to something they've personally experienced = 3 minutes
- Students elaborate on the significance of this truism = 1 minute
My favorite thing about the 11-Minute Essay is that it really only requires two things:
- Students must write in short, timed bursts.
- Students must be given a structure in which to write.
And that's it! So, once you've tried this basic 11-Minute Essay structure, you can - and should! - feel free to explore other possibilities!
Check out the wealth of essay structures on Bernabei's website to support every content area:
- Structures for Writing about Math
- Structures for Writing about Science
- Structures for Writing about Social Studies
- Structures for Writing about Current Events
- Structures for Basic Informational Writing
- Structures for Creative/Personal Writing
For any of these structures - or for any others you might create - you would simply need to set time limits for students as they write. Generating ideas in timed situations is a tough skill, and our students need as much practice with it as they can get!
So How Am I Supposed to Grade These?
Thankfully, Gretchen Bernabei has a super simple rubric for these essays!
It's easy to understand and use, so I think this is a perfect opportunity to allow students to peer and self assess.
- Students will engage in writing practices daily, throughout the school day, in every content area.
- Students will write two essays per six weeks in all content areas.
- These essays should be reviewed during PLC time in Week 3 and Week 5 of the six weeks, to compare students' overall comprehension of the skills & information assessed.
- During PLC time, departments should consider how to support students who still need support and instruction over certain concepts and build this into upcoming lessons.