In her teaching, Linda Rief, author of The Quickwrite Handbook, always tries to remember these four principles:
- The more we want students to know how to do something well, the more often they should do it.
- We learn to read by reading and writing.
- We learn to write by writing and reading.
- A person can read without writing, but cannot write without reading.
Quickwrites support all four of these principles. Following are some practices developed around quickwrites to help students read and write successfully.
Engage Students in Writing
- Share any pieces of writing in The Quickwrite Handbook or other pieces that you find are meaningful and compelling to your students.
- Let the students see the pieces by projecting them on a whiteboard.
- Read the piece aloud to the students so they can hear it.
- Ask students to try writing or drawing quickly based on any of the "Try This..." ideas at the bottom of each page in The Quickwrite Handbook.
- Write or draw your own quickwrites with the students.
- If more than half of the students are still writing after two or three minutes, let them continue for another minute or two.
- Give students credit for doing the quickwrites, considering this first-draft thinking part of their notebook or journal writing.
Engage Students in Reading
- Ask if anyone would like to read what he or she wrote.
- Thank volunteers for sharing and comment specifically on what they did well.
- If you do several quickwrites in one period or during the week, ask students to read what they wrote and star the quickwrite that surprises them the most or that they like the most. This gives them a focus for what they might go back to as they develop more extensive pieces from the quickwrite.
- Read your own quickwrites to the students, and frequently show them how you develop some of the ideas into fuller pieces.
Extend the Quickwrites
- Allow the students a choice in which quickwrites remain underdeveloped and which matter enough to expand or craft further into finished pieces.
- Teach the students the craft of revision as you talk with them about their writing, whether it comes from quickwrites or other sources.
- Every few weeks ask students to go back into their writer's-reader's notebooks and find the quickwrites or any other thinking that surprised them or they want to say more about, indicating that this thinking could be developed into a more expanded piece.
Extend This Collection
- Add your students' writing and your own writing to this collection.
- Add the writing of professionals that your especially like to this collection.
- If there are particular kinds of writing you would like students to become more adept at, find models you can use as quickwrites to help them craft that kind of writing.
Linda Rief teaches middle school in Durham, New Hampshire and is an instructor in the University of New Hampshire’s Summer Literacy Institute. A national and international presenter on issues of adolescent literacy, she is also a recipient of NCTE’s Edwin A. Hoey Award for Outstanding Middle School Educator in the English Language Arts.
Her newest book is The Quickwrite Handbook: 100 Mentor Texts to Jumpstart Your Students' Thinking and Writing. She is also the author or coeditor of many Heinemann titles, including Read Write Teach, Inside the Writer's-Reader's Notebook, The Writer's-Reader's Notebook, Adolescent Literacy, Vision and Voice, and Seeking Diversity.
Follow Linda on Twitter @LindaMRief