Friday, April 10, 2015

Using Quick Writes in an Upper Elementary Classroom

Anyone else feel like they don't give enough time and focus to writing in the classroom?
There are some weeks that pass by and I think, I could have worked in WAY more writing... I came across the idea of adding Quick Writes into my (almost) Daily routine. Here's how they work.

To start off class, I'll throw up an interesting illustration from a picture book to get the hamster wheels turning. (THE FIRST TIME I DID THIS, CUE FIFTH GRADE FREAK OUT!) "Wait, what? We can just write something? To go with the picture? That's it??" OUTRAGE! Along with outrage comes... wait for it... ENGAGEMENT! They're hooked.

The last photo we used in class was an illustration from The Wreck of the Zephyr by Chris Van Allsburg. Stick around and you'll find out that I'm kind of obsessed with him, almost as much as Roald Dahl... but I digress.

I told the kids that for this particular illustration they just had to compose a short story. It could be fictional (probably should be since boats are floating in mid air) but there were no other stipulations. Be ready to clarify that they have almost free reign for about 3 minutes before they finally trust you.

Here is what happened: I had every kid WRITING. That's right, engaged in writing. Not worried about spelling, making sure it was perfect, but engaged and having FUN writing. This counts for something, right? I think that if this could be added into your routine 3-5 times a week, you would see insane changes in the attitudes of your kids. Give it a shot! You can use anything for a Quick Write, a blog post you found interesting, a commercial that is relevant, pictures, WHATEVER!

This is something that I like also because it requires little to no prep and materials, however, I have made a product (I use a lot of these pictures) and this could be used to introduce the idea to your kids. There are poems, recipes, fantasy stories, fables, and lots of other types included. Pictures come with prompts and without so you can use how you see fit. I think you should give Quick Writes a try.


  1. I love doing this- they truly are so used to prompt writing and structure pieces that this seems like a foreign concept for them. I have some that are really funny! I have a copy of this book- will have to try this next week!

    1. I agree... I've tried working it in 2-3 times a week and I've seen a big difference in the kids. They are such CREATIVE writers! The illustrations we used were the one of the boats in the harbor, where one is in the air and the one where the boy is lying in the grass looking over the water.

      I had a kid write a futuristic story where he didn't understand why the boat was on the water... He was in his dad's "hover boat." AMAZING!


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