The Stenhouse Blog

Provide More Writing Opportunities with Quick Writes

Posted by admin on Jan 2, 2019 10:57:54 AM

 “Writing has the power to help us explore, discover, and express our thoughts in a way that is at the heart of being human, and our students need us to teach it in ways that engage and empower them beyond a standardized curriculum.” ~Paula Bourque

We learn to write by writing. The more we write, the more proficient we become. But writing time doesn’t always have to take place during workshop. Quick Writes are a way to “sneak in” more writing opportunities into a student’s day, which will lead to greater fluency and proficiency.

What are Quick Writes?

In her new book, Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms, Paula Bourque defines Quick Writes as: “Short and frequent bursts of low-stakes writing in response to a stimulus (spark) that do not allow for planning, revising, or overly cautious forethought. They constitute thinking on paper that helps students creatively explore ideas while boosting their volume of writing. Or, put simply: Thinking and Inking,” (Bourque 2019).

Quick Writes allow students to play and experiment with writing. They encourage risk-taking that is pleasurable and meaningful. The big idea is that you build a daily habit for writing that increases your students’ volume of writing and extends (or moves beyond) your writing curriculum in ways that are engaging and create a broader, more positive perception of writing for students.

How to Use Quick Writes

Spark! provides a variety of ideas for Quick Writes, some addressing specific needs or motivations and some simply to spur creative thinking of teachers and students alike. For example:

  • Emerging—to develop greater automaticity and fluency at the letter, word, and sentence level for our primary writers
  • Information—to activate prior knowledge, stimulate curiosity, and express opinions from a wide variety of informational sources
  • Appreciation—to expose students to a variety of art in visual, auditory, or verbal formats and invite personal responses as an integral expression of language arts
  • Creativity—to promote more playful practice when composing narrative writing and communication with others
  • Social-Emotional—to nurture mindfulness, encourage metacognitive skills, and foster a mind-set of reflection, motivation, and gratitude

The goal is to encourage habits of mind, foster awareness, and appreciate or stimulate thinking.

Benefits of Daily Quick Writes

Students can develop tunnel vision about what writing is supposed to be when they are singularly focused on components of a rubric or a learning progression. By developing a habit of daily Quick Writes with her own students, Bourque observed the following benefits to students beyond the targeted skills and formal assessments that measure the success of writing instruction. Daily Quick Writes:

  1. Develop valuable “soft skills” beyond literacy
  2. Reset students’ default approach to writing
  3. Strengthen relationships with our students
  4. Increase enjoyment of writing.

“If you want to get to know your students more intimately, build stronger relationships, and create a supportive writing community, Quick Writes can help. If you want to cultivate more joy and success in the lives of your writers, Quick Writes can help. There is so much potential thinking and learning awaiting your students in ten minutes or so a day!” (Bourque 2019).

To learn more about how to bring the benefits of Quick Writes to your classroom, get your copy of Spark! today! Free shipping, as always!


Bourque, Paula. 2019. Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms. Stenhouse Publishing: Portsmouth, NH.

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