I’m using my time well on the plane--writing!
I promised the SoMIRAC audience (by the way, thank you! You were great!) I would blog today about a few “success stories” from teachers implementing the Quick Bursts of writing. See, unlike me (HA!), I included too many slides in my presentation and had to skip a few. So, briefly…
One story is about a fourth grade teacher at my school. She implemented Quick Writes daily in her classroom last year, saying, “I have a little bit of time, maybe ten minutes each day.” She was a bit hesitant about how all this writing might work out, but she jumped in. She gave students a prompt and asked them to follow the Quick Write rules (see handout March 26 post). She stuck to the time limit and always followed up the writing with just a short bit of sharing. She was amazed at how her students came to view writing and how their writing fluency and skill improved. In fact, I included one of her students’ samples in my book—a student who barely wrote anything and really struggled at first; then, who came to write much more fluently (despite having many serious learning challenges).
Her story doesn’t end there. This year, one of our fifth grade teachers said, “This is undoubtedly the best group of writers I’ve ever inherited!” When I told the previous grade’s teacher, she attributed this to…what? Yep, the Quick Writes. She admits she didn’t do a whole lot with writing in general or writing workshop, but the sheer acts of making some time consistently every day, and honoring students’ voices through the Quick Writes made a big difference. Production counts (among other things; yes, but it really counts)!
Okay, here’s success story number two. This one comes from a fifth grade teacher who was in a class I taught on writing for the State of Utah and Davis School District in the fall. One of the on-going assignments for the course was for teachers to go back to their classrooms weekly, implement some writing, and bring samples to class to share and discuss. We started out with Quick Bursts of writing since these are manageable, small bites—nice places for teachers and students to start. Mrs. B. fell in love with the Quick Bursts and easily found ways to infuse them throughout her curriculum every day. So, as the semester went on, she had many surprises and successes to share. She was blown away with how quickly her students came to view themselves as writer-thinkers and how seriously they took the responding. She also relayed this story to the class,
“I had a big breakthrough in learning. Each year, I teach the core science unit on (was it electricity? I can’t recall the content—and am paraphrasing here). It’s something my students have struggled with and when I’ve given post-tests in the past, I’ve had to do a lot of re-teaching (scores were around 65%). This year, though, as we went through the exact same learning activities, I used Quick Bursts of writing every day to better engage them with the content. It slowed us down some; but, my students got it! I gave the same test and (drum roll, please) … the class scored around 93%!” (True, this was a different group of students, and in no way a scientific analysis but, this teacher felt she saw a heightened level of engagement and understanding brought about by the frequent, short writing opportunities.)
She was excited! I was excited! Quick Bursts of writing make a difference to students in so many ways. Hooray for loads and loads of informal writing! And, once again, thanks Maryland—what a grand day it was!
(P.S. After my session, several teachers asked me about spelling. If you’d like a quick peek at a strategy I regularly use with students, see my Facebook page, ‘Janiel’s Literacy Wall’ and scroll down to a video posted on Oct. 11, 2011.)