Engaging students in the classroom is necessary to keep the students’ interest, as well as allow opportunities for the students to reflect and think critically about the content covered in the classroom. “To be an effective teacher, the instructor must include pedagogy that reaches as many students as possible” (Peters & McClatchey, 2017). The use of quick writes, such as entrance tickets, is to evaluate informally the mastery of content read along with fostering reflection and application of the reading assignments (Wirth & Aziz, n.d.). According to the Academic Skills Centre at Trent University, they define critical reflection as a “meaningful exercise which can require as much time and work as traditional essays and reports because it asks students to be purposeful and engaged participants, readers, and thinkers” (n.d.). Quick writes help provide evidence of mastered content and misconceptions. This allows for targeted academic conversations among peers when reflecting on their readings and in class learning. Daniels, Zemelman, and Steineke (2007) state that writing “paves the way to fulfilling employment” (p.5). In order for students to understand and critically think, they “must act upon them” and that is where the use of quick write strategies come into the classroom (Daniels, et.al, p. 25, 2007).
Description of Quick Writes
Rivard (1994) stated that writing is a powerful tool for enhancing learning in the classroom. Traditional writing focuses on the structure and the usage of grammar, where the quick writes focuses on the students’ prior knowledge and learning new material (Shen, D. , n.d.). Quick writes can be used across the disciplines to enhance learning (Fisher & Frey, 2008). The beneficial part of using quick writes is that they can used before, during, and after instruction of content being taught (Mason, Benedek-Wood & Valasa, 2009).
Overview of the Quick Write Study
This action research provided teacher candidates the opportunity to explore quick writes that they can take back to their classroom. This action research examined the use of five different quick writes (writing break, brainstorming, drawing and illustrating, write around, and a K-W-L organizer). This also provided the instructors the opportunity to reflect on the strategy and provided the teacher candidates the opportunity to reflect on the use of the strategies for future
Five Quick Write Strategies
Several types of quick writes are identified in Daniels, Zemelman, and Steineke (2007). The different quick writes allows the teacher flexibility on which one to use and when to use based on what content is being covered. For the purpose of this study, five quick write strategies were selected, with an attempt to provide a variety of reflective experiences for both instructors and students. These quick writes are also posted in the appendix for reference with examples.
● Writing Break- A writing break allows the instructor to stop teaching during parts of the the lesson and let the students write. The teacher should pre-plan when the students will stop to write during the lesson. It is recommended to stop and let the students write every ten to fifteen minutes. The prompts can be general. Daniels et.al (2007) provide examples that can be general or more specific to content. General: 1). What does this remind you of? 2) What are you thinking of right now? 3) What questions do you still have? Specific to content: 1) What would you do if you faced this problem? 2). How would you describe the relationship between TRNA and RNA? (p.32).
● Brainstorming- Before the teacher has the students brainstorm, it is important to determine the topic to be brainstormed. Perhaps it will be to determine prior knowledge, review material, make connections between course content and events outside the classroom. Students should be given a few minutes to brainstorm individually and a few minutes to brainstorm with a partner (Daniels, et. al).
● Drawing and Illustrating- Students can be directed to make quick sketches, drawings, or diagrams to illustrate ideas, events, or real world situations. Marzano states that the drawings/illustrations also referred to as non-linguistic representations “helps students deepen their understanding because it requires them to think about the content in new ways. Asking students to explain their representations promotes even greater understanding” (¶ 9, 2010).
● Write Around- During a Write Around, it is important to address respect of peer opinions on topics and elaborate on moving beyond surface-level discussion on a topic. To implement the strategy, the teacher will create groups of three to five students and provide a prompt related to the instructional topic. Students will individually jot down their initial thoughts on the prompt, pass their paper to the closest peer, and receive another peer’s work. Students are then instructed to read the previous comments and thoughts, and add to the dialogue, providing rich, complex discussion points to the paper. This strategy allows students to consider another person’s point of view, develop a stronger sense of the topic being discussed, and step into the role of an advocate for a certain perspective (Daniels and Daniels, 2013).
● K-W-L- This strategy allows the teacher to gather a quick pre-assessment about what students know about a topic before going in depth for class discussion and instruction. The K stands for what students already know about the topic. The W stands for what students want to know about the topic, providing students an opportunity to steer the instruction toward their interests. This aspect of t the K-W-L also provides an opportunity for the instructor
Haleigh Brown is a second grade teacher at Sparta Elementary School. She absolutely loves teaching second grade. She is working on receiving a master's degree in Literacy and hopes to eventually become a literacy coach so that she can coach teachers in reading instruction.