Quick Writes

"Writing to Learn: Quick Writes"


1. "Quickwrites" (post) are an active, low-stakes, "writing to learning" strategy that helps students (indiviudally, in paris, or in small groups):

  • "[T]hink and learn about the course content and stay engaged on a day-to-day basis"
  • [O]rganize concepts, place them in their own language, and connect them with their own analogies and metaphors"
  • "[P]rovide constant reinforcement for the content"
  • "[I]mprov[e] [their] writing ability"

Such "quick writes" also help instructors find out the following:

  • "[W]hat students do and do not understand"
  • [H]ow the students' thought processes are organized as they learn the concepts"
  • Where concepts need to be clarified 

2. Some Varieties of Quickwrites

a. Two-Five Minute Essays
Students are asked to write in the last five minutes of class answers to the following:

  • "What did you learn in class today?"
  • "What questions or concerns do you have?" 

"In answering the first question, students often discover gaps in their knowledge, and these then appear in the second question."

  • "If instructors ask only the second question because of time pressures, students may not be able to formulate the more sophisticated questions."

b. Other Short Writing Assignments

  • "[W]rite the main ideas from the previous lecture."
  • "[T]ell what they already know about a certain topic before it is presented in class."
  • "[E]xplain a particular concept."
  • "[S]ummarize the assigned reading."
  • "[G]enerate several questions they think may appear on the next exam." 

c. Microthemes

"Microthemes are short writing assignments that usually can be written on a 5x8 inch index card." 

"The goal is for students to invest substantial studying time prior to writing the microtheme; i.e., the microtheme leverages a lot of thinking, and later, to discuss their ideas with other students."

These can be sorted into four categories:

  • Summary-writing
  • Thesis-supported
  • Data-provided
  • Quandary-posing