Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Quick Write Success!

I told myself in my head, "I'm going to go home today and spend time with my family."  I've been so excited about what I've learned this week in our writing institute that I've gone home every afternoon and blogged about it all evening.  I made a rule tonight:  I would not neglect my family.  I planned on sitting on the couch and reading books with my girls and spending quality time talking to my husband about his day when he got home from work.
The girls were excited this afternoon because they had a new bag brimming full of books from Linebaugh Library.  We sat and read the first book:  Big Bug Surprise written and illustrated by Julia Gran.
The story was all about a little girl named Prunella who was quite the bug expert.  Oh no!  As I was reading, I was already making connections with something we learned in class today!  I figured I might as well practice on my children and make this a teachable moment (for myself as well as my daughters).  I discussed with my nine year old that we have been learning how to think up new ideas for our writing in class.  I also told her that I'm one of those writers who gets brain freeze a lot and I can't think of what to write about.  I told her about quick writes and how they help you think up lots of great ideas for your writing in a very short time.  I asked her to grab a pen and tablet of paper.  I was planning on constructing a quick write list with her.  I asked Emma Kate, "What did we learn about Prunella in the story Big Bug Surprise?"  She told me that Prunella knew everything about bugs.  Right on!  So I told her we were going to quickly think up some great ideas that she could write about herself.  Prunella was the "expert" in the story.  I asked her what she thought she could be an expert about.  I modeled the idea for her.  I made a t-chart on her tablet and started listing and thinking out loud what I thought I could be an expert about.  Here is my list:
  • book fairs
  • big sister
  • mom
  • scrapbooking
  • picture books
  • tennis
  • half marathons (getting there)
  • dance
  • swimming
I told her after I made my list, I was going to go back and choose my favorite expert areas to write about.  I could write a story about an experience with one of these areas, a song about it, a poem, directions, etc.  I asked her to tell me what she thought she was the expert about.  She started out slow, but once she got started, she couldn't stop throwing out ideas!
  • gymnastics
  • big sister
  • swimming
  • pet owner
  • art
  • reading
  • friends
  • technology
Emma Kate also went back and starred her favorites:  friends and gymnastics.  I told Emma Kate that this is the kind of list that I keep in my writing notebook so that when I am feeling like I need a fresh idea for my writing, it's right there waiting for me!  Success!

What is a quick write?
  • provides a plethora of writing ideas
  • jump starts the brain
  • generates ideas
  • takes five to ten minutes
  • no set format
  • breaks down barriers
  • gives the writer more freedom than a prompt or story starter
  • helps students understand and see they have lots to say
Quick writes can be divided into five categories:
video

  • graphic-We drew a picture of our foot and wrote the places our foot has been around the foot or inside.  You draw the graphic and then write in or around it.
  • list-We listed the scariest times we've experienced or scariest places we've been.
  • literature-Ellen read aloud the poem called, "Fishbones Dreaming."  The book she used was The Flying Spring Onion by Matthew Sweeney. She asked us to write about any connections we had with the poem or what came to mind as we listened. 
  • media or music-we watched a slideshow that included photographs as well as different genres of music.  We listed anything that came to mind as we looked at the pictures and listened to the music.  Several of us agreed that this type of quick write really got our creative juices flowing!
(The video above is great to use for media and music.  It was created by the Upper Cumberland Writing Institute and is available on You Tube.)
  • environment-We headed outside and were asked to sit by ourselves and list everything in our environment that appealed to our five senses for about three minutes.  After that time, we were asked to take one piece of sensory information that we listed and jump off with it for our writing.
We discussed that you don't have to use quick writes all the time as a teacher.  They would prove very useful at the beginning of the year as you are getting to know your students better.  They can also be used at times where your class could use a "kick start" in their writing.  Here are some more ideas for quick writes in each of the five categories:

  • graphic-heart, animal, pet, hand, foot, eye, clock, calendar, daily schedule, ball (student chooses type), vehicle, brain, place you live, backyard, bedroom, item of season, food
  • list-emotions, colors, hobbies, expert, family, classmates, friends, songs, in your desk, in your locker, happiest, funniest, first day of school, traditions, books, wish you could delete, survival, travel
  • literature-poetry, song lyrics, nonfiction, famous quote, excerpt from text
  • media or music-student artwork, familiar/popular songs, all about me bag, YouTube clip, photograph, news article, famous paintings, historical pictures, reproductions of statues, primary documents
  • environment-cafeteria, playground, field trips, library, outside, gym, principal's office, garden, music room, kindergarten room
A lot of these quick writes we made up on our own.  If you have any more ideas for great quick writes, please post a comment and share!


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