69: Quick Writes (1 of 2)





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WTLs (left) vs Public writing (right)
  • short vs substantial
  • spontaneous vs planned
  • exploratory vs authoritative
  • informal vs conventional
  • personal vs audience centered
  • one draft vs drafted
  • unedited vs edited
  • ungraded vs assessable
WTLs: Why they work
  • students need to act upon ideas to develop understanding
  • understanding increases when people write ideas down
  • part of learning ideas is putting them in own words
  • goes beyond transcription (beyond fill-in-the-blank, recall questions)
  • can expose prior knowledge and misconceptions
  • can help students set and achieve academic goals
  • increase active participation during class discussions
WTLs: Quick Writes: 3 Examples (4 more examples are here)
  1. Writing break: 
    • create opportune times to stop learning activities to give students a chance to process new learnings by writing
    • frequency – recommends every 10-12 min in long lecture (equals max attention span of an adult)
    • could occur after examining a dense visual for a couple minutes
    • Suggested prompts:
      • What info stands out?  Why?
      • What does this remind you of?
      • What questions do you still have?
      • Rate you understanding from 1 to 5.  Explain why.
      • What makes sense? What’s confusing?
      • Higher order textbook questions
    • cruise around the room while students are taking their writing break – skim students’ writing, notice if students are struggling to get started
    • have students pair share their writing immediately after writing break
      • read about their writing and then
      • continue the academic conversation
    • call on 2 to 3 pairs for quick summary of what was discussed
    • Easing students in:
      • start with specific, short prompts
      • after doing writing breaks several times, ask students reflect by considering;
        • did I write through the whole break?
        • did I justify my ideas with evidence?
        • did my writing start a good conversation with my partner?
    • Prepping for tests –
      • have students review what they wrote in their writing breaks and create lists of key things to remember
      • focus test review on key things that rarely or do not make it to student lists
  2. Exit slips:
    • takes place during last 1-5 minutes of class
    • on small slips of paper, Post-Its, index cards, etc
    • possible prompts:
      • what was the best discussion you brought to the group? why?
      • what did you learn today?
      • how is the project going for you?
      • what was the most important idea discussed today? why?
      • what was the most confusing idea discussed today? why?
      • predict what we will need to learn in this project and why?
      • what would you like me to review tomorrow and why?
      • design an essay question that goes with today’s material.  why this question?
      • what goals can you set for yourself to learn this material successfully?
      • what would be some good review questions relating to today’s lesson?
      • what can I do to help you learn bettering this class?
      • summarize today’s lesson using 25 carefully chosen words?
      • Process prompts: what did you notice while discussing your writing break work with your partners
      • Classroom management prompt: how will classroom learning change if … improves?
    • work the room while students write to ensure that they use the whole time to write and to quickly scan what they write
    • have students write their names on the tickets for accountability
    • analyze exit tickets
      • look for common themes
      • common misconceptions
      • unique comments and questions
      • identify what can be highlighted tomorrow and what needs reteaching or re-clarification
    • share synthesis/analysis of exit tickets with class on following day
  3. Admit slip
    • piece of writing students bring to the start of class
    • usually a review of previous day’s material
    • prompts:
      • thought-provoking questions that go with previous lesson’s learning target?
      • examples:
        • How could this formula be applied in a real-world situation?
        • Explain the advantages and disadvantages of indicators vs meters.
    • how to use admit slips:
      • scan quickly and read 1 to 3 discussion starters aloud and have students discuss in pairs and share summaries with class
      • find 2 opposing slips, read aloud and discuss
      • ask volunteers to read slips aloud
      • shuffle cards and pass out randomly and have pair read cards aloud to start a discussion
      • pass out randomly and students write comments on slips (do several times) – then volunteers start conversation by reading aloud original writing and added comments
    • troubleshooting
      • if students have trouble doing homework, dedicate first 5 minutes of class to writing slips – during writing time, work the room to scan writing and to encourage students to use the whole time to write
    • other use:
      • assign a problem that bridges yesterday’s and today’s material
WTLs can help students learn how to think.  Using quick strategies can help students reprocess information and can help teachers notice trends that help them build bridges between ideas and fine-tune lessons.  Admit and exit tickets can help frame the lesson like a narrative that has a clear beginning, middle, and end.


Preparation Steps
  • Plan learning activities and identify good spots and create writing prompts for writing breaks.
  • Plan writing prompts for admit and exit tickets.
Early Implementation Steps
  • Use writing breaks during scaffolding activities to give students time to actively process new learnings by writing about and discussing it with a partner
  • Assign and analyze admit and/or exit slips.
  • Use admit and/or exit slips to start classroom discussion that build a bridge between current and prior knowledge.
Advanced Implementation Steps
  • Develop routines that involve regular use of writing breaks, admit and/or exit slips.
  • Have students reflect upon multiple writing pieces from writing breaks, admit sips, and exit slips in order to be aware of how their knowledge and skills are evolving over time



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