Quick Write

A focused writing-to-learn strategy

Why do you think many people are reluctant to share their writing with others?

Take the next three minutes to write your response to this question.

What is a quick write?

  • A quick write is a focused, informal piece of writing.
  • A quick write is generally completed in 3-5 minutes.
  • A quick write may be used for a variety of purposes: reveal what you know about a topic, contemplate new ideas, make a personal connection.
  • A quick write is non-threatening in that it focuses on content rather than mechanics.
Quick Writes - A strategy to teach content writing

Are quick writes only for the beginning of the class?

Peter Elbow gives these examples:

  • 8 minutes of writing at the start of class to help students bring to mind their homework reading or lab work or previous lectures.
  • 8 minutes in mid class when things go dead--or to get students to think about an important question that has come up.
  • 8 minutes at the end of class or lecture to get them to think about what's been discussed.
  • 5 minutes at the end of class to write to us about what they learned that day: what was the main idea for them, what was going on for them during that class. Not only will this help them integrate and internalize the course material, it helps our teaching by showing us what's getting through and what isn't.

Quick Write Prompts for Math

  • Describe a practical career use for measuring an object's surface area other than by a gift wrapper.
  • Which is easier to use, percentage or ration? Why?
  • What is the easiest way to determine whether a problem solution (in multiplication) will be positive or negative?

North Star of Texas Writing Project

Quick Write Prompts for Science

  • What do you think the "edge of space" looks like?
  • Telescopes are sometimes referred to as "time machines." What do you think the reason is for this?
  • Describe the relationship between wavelength and frequency.

North Star of Texas Writing Project

Quick Write Prompts for Social Studies

  • What would you like to read in tomorrow's headlines on the front page of the newspaper? Why?
  • What contribution to history would you like to be known for?
  • What is the most interesting thing you learned during the unit we just finished?

North Star of Texas Writing Project

Quick Write Prompts for ELAR

  • Add an additional line to the poem we just read, or replace a line with one of your own. Explain your choice.
  • Look carefully at the photograph (or painting) and tell its story.
  • Write about an experience from your own life which is very similar to or very different from the experience of the character in the story we just read.

Adaptations for Early Elementary

Allow students to "draw" their quick writes and add labels.

Adaptations for ELL

Utilize a Structured Quick Write Template such as the one below:

Topic: Character Analysis

Directions: Think about and remember what you learned yesterday in class about the characters in the short story we began reading. Then fill in the blanks and Complete at least three sentences.

  1. Something I remember about a descriptive adjective is ______________________________.
  2. Something I remember about a character trait is ___________________________________.
  3. While I read, I need to infer. I think that means I need to __________________________.
  4. Something I remember about the dialogue in the story is __________________________.
  5. A trait I saw in a character in our story, "Everyday Use: For Your Grandmama," is __________________________________.
  6. This trait is familiar, because______________________________________________also has it. (Write a friend or family member's name.)
  7. I also remember__________________________________________ about the story.

"Everyday Use: For Your Grandmama" is a short story written by Alice Walker.

This quick write template is from Sheltered Instruction Observation Protocol.

Benefits of Quick Writes

  • They encourage writing as a habit or practice.
  • They give students time to organize their thoughts before sharing them orally.
  • They promote reflection and may provide the genesis for a longer piece of writing.
  • They may be used as part of instruction, review, assessment, and discussion