Quick Writes

Hi Everyone,

Today brings another installment in our series recapping the Help Adult Literacy Students Increase Their Writing Fluency event Dr. Mary Ann Corley did for our group.

One way to increase adult's writing fluency is a quick write, where learners respond in 2–10 minutes to an open-ended question or prompt posed by the teacher before, during, or after a reading. (Important: The teacher always writes, too!)

  • Stress that students should write whatever comes to mind without organizing it too much or worrying about grammar.
  • Select a topic related to the text being studied and define the purpose for the quick write, for example:
    • Summarize what was learned
    • Connect to background information or students’ lives
    • Explain concepts or vocabulary
    • Make predictions, inferences, and hypotheses

Why should we use quick writes? Quick writes:

1. Bring out the writer: Provide ideas and frames for student writing and plant seeds for more expanded pieces.

2. Build students’ confidence: Students often don’t realize how much they know until they began writing—and see the quality of their writing.

3. Develop writing fluency, especially if used frequently.

4. Bring out the reader: Students often become better readers as they hear, see, and craft language.

5. Can be used to informally assess student thinking by asking students what they learned in class today/tonight and what questions they still have (formative assessment).

(Source: Dr. Mary Ann Corley, Help Adult Literacy Students Increase Their Writing Fluency PPt)

  • How have you used quick writes with your students?
  • What prompts have you used in quick writes?

Thanks for being part of our group,

Steve Schmidt, Moderator

LINCS Reading and Writing Group 



Hi Everyone,

I wanted to add a few things I learned about quick writes at Dr. Corley's event:

  • A quick write can double as a formative assessment as in the one-minute essay shown below:

A one minute essay formative assessment is shown with the questions: What is the most important idea that I learned in class today? and What question remains in my mind at the end of today’s lesson?

  • During quick writes, instructors should write about the prompt along with their students. Teachers reported that their writing skills improved by doing this!
  • A quick write prompt can be about anything: family, jobs, exciting events, or something personal. We can supply a short reading or poem and ask students a text dependent question. Students can write about pictures or short videos too.
  • If an instructor chooses to respond to a quick write, they should make comments about content and not grammar
  • Keeping students' quick writes serves as a way to show their progress over time
  • Having students share their quick writes with the class is another way to create classroom connections

Please share how you have used quick writes with your students!

Thanks for your participation.

Steve Schmidt, Moderator

LINCS Reading and Writing Group 

Quick Writes are a great, low-stress way for students to get more practice, and if the instructor has time to respond in writing, it can be very motivating.

We use brief journal entries, which are often done as in-class quick entries. The journal entries focus on metacognitive issues: Did you try out the new strategy and how did it work for you? How did you plan when and where to get your assignment done? What did you learn from feedback on the last assignment; what goal will you set for the next assignment?

After students write, the instructor leads a class discussion; students are free to share or not, but the discussions are often quite interesting. Students attitudes can be shaped by what their peers say. Students who are reluctant to try out new strategies or take goal-setting seriously can be influenced by peers who report success with strategies. 

Charles "Skip" MacArthur

Skip, I appreciate your ideas about how we can use quick writes to aid metacognition!

I was thinking about other metacognitive questions we could use during quick writes. This took me to this site. I was especially intrigued by the letter from the future technique:

"One of my favorite practices to enhance student metacognition is to have them write themselves a letter 'from the future,' as if it were the end of the class. They use the prompt, 'I met my academic goals for this course because … ' We then review this letter at the middle and at the end of the semester.  I think this helps them remember why they are doing what they are doing and helps them focus on their goals.    - Monica Linden, Neuroscience"

  • In what other ways could we use quick writes in class?

Thanks for your contribution,

Steve Schmidt, Moderator

LINCS Reading and Writing Group