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Quick Writing Activities Kathy Burns-Millyard

Writing
The ability to write is dependent on many factors: a persons educational experience,
ones ability to speak English, ones exposure to written English, and ones need for
writing. Some people with fluent speaking and listening skills, including native speakers,
may have very low literacy levels. Even the ability to read is not necessarily an indicator
of the ability to write.
Writing requires the production of language, and on the hierarchy of learning,
production is almost always more challenging than reception (such as reading and
listening comprehension). For this reason, the ability to write may take longer to
develop than any other skill. In light of these challenges, understanding the ways in
which a student uses writing on a daily basis can inform and improve instruction. When
you know what and why your student needs to write, you can set achievable goals
together and tailor lessons to meet those goals.

1. Caught Ya's and Paraphrasing


o

These quick writing activities focus on basic grammar and comprehension instead
of creative writing.
For "Caught Ya's," put one or two short paragraphs of text on the blackboard with
punctuation and grammar errors purposely in place. Have the students copy the
text, fixing the errors as they go.
For paraphrasing exercises, write a brief paragraph or two on the blackboard and
instruct the students to write the same information down in their own words,
while keeping the same meaning and information.

Here are some quick and easy writing activities to try with students. We encourage you
to do the assignment with your student(s). Ideas will be exchanged, students will see
how you write and learn from your writing style, and students enjoy reading your writing

and thoughts!

Write a summary of a TV show to bring in and read aloud, or retell an episode for
a Language Experience Story.

Write a short paragraph about a good day at work.

Write sentences using new words.

Edit a writing exercise with your student.

Keep a journal; write letters, notes on greeting cards, valentines, posters, trip
diaries, grocery lists, other lists (ex.: "What can you find in your kitchen?" "What
are your favorite foods?"), etc.

Write about the World's Greatest Invention and/or the World's Worst Invention.

Keep a "Distraction Journal" to list distractions and discuss strategies for


refocusing.

Sit on a street corner (or anywhere else) and write about what you see and hear.
Describe it so that someone who wasn't there can form a clear image of the
scene.

Look at a photo or picture, then write a paragraph describing the sounds you
might be hearing in the scene.

Write song lyrics.

Write out vacation plans and keep a trip journal during the vacation.

Keep a notebook in which he copies a paragraph each day from a book which
interests him. Try it twice-- first fast, then slowly and neatly.

For an experience story, write about a time you were afraid!

Write a plan for a road trip or vacation to be taken after your student receives her
license.

Write an article for our newsletter, Bridge to Literacy.

Write a paragraph about something good/bad/funny that happened yesterday.

Write recipes.

Write a movie review.

Copy a sentence a day that you think is worth saving.

Write about a pleasant/unpleasant location.

Write out a shopping list.

Write letters to a family member.

Practice writing your home address or a family member's address.

See the "Poetry: Help for Reluctant Writers" attachment at the bottom of this
page.

When giving a writing topic, have students draw a picture first.

Have students collaborate on a writing project.

Have a word-for-the-day for vocabulary building.

Have students select a favorite animal, plant, or other object and write through its
voice (I am the wind blowing through all the cracks and crevices of life.)

Use nature pictures to create captions, poetry, stories, or essays.

Create a chain story: Instructor starts with a sentence, then students add another
and another, etc.

Use the "Ideas for Writing" grid attached at the bottom of this page for a
brainstorming activity.

Use the "Proofreading Checklist" tool at the bottom of the page to keep track of
techniques students learn for proofreading their writing.

Review contractions--see the list attached at the bottom of this page for your
reference.

Some prompts to stimulate writing:

Tell about a time you said no.

Tell about a time you said yes.

Tell about a time you stood up for yourself.

Tell about a time you stood up for someone else.

Tell about your worst job.

Tell about your best job.

Tell about a time you fell in love.

Tell about a time you fell out of love.

Tell about a time you traveled somewhere memorable.

Tell about a time something happened in the dark.

Tell about a time you were lost.

Tell about a time when someone else made a difference in your life.

Tell about a time when you made a difference in someone else's life.

Tell about a time someone old had an impact on you.

Tell about a time someone very young had an impact on you.

Tell about a time you met someone amazing.

Tell about something that happened outdoors.

Tell about something you treasured as a young child.

Tell about something that shows what's important to your family.

Tell about someone you want to be like as you get older.

Tell about a place that makes you fell calm and peaceful.

Tell about a time when something happened when you were doing something you love to
do.

Tell the story of you life by making a list of place you have lived.

Tell the story of you life by making a list of things you liked to do at each age.

Tell the story of you life by making a list of people who have been close to you. Write a
line or two about each one.

Tell the story of you life by making a list of the things that were most important to you at
each age.

Tell the story of you life by making a list of movies that characterize your life at each
age.

Tell about your worst experience in school.

Tell about the best thing that has ever happened to you in school.

Tell about something you know how to do really well.

Tell about a cultural tradition in your family that you want to pass onto your children.

Tell about an animal who was/is a big influence on you.

Tell about the birth of one of your children.

Describe one of your children. What is he or she like as a person?

Tell about one of the strongest memories you have with your child or children.

Tell about what is easy for you as a parent and what challenges you.

Tell about your hopes and dreams for your child and children.

Tell about a mistake you made that taught you something you may never forget.

Quick writing activities are an excellent way to help students of all ages improve
their writing and creativity. It encourages them to express their feelings, explore
questions big and small and learn more about themselves, others and the

environment around them.


Most quick writing activities are creative in nature, encouraging students to use
their imagination. Other writing activities are useful for reinforcing basic spelling,
grammar, punctuation and comprehension skills.
By Kathy Burns-Millyard, eHow Contributo
Martin Lee and Marcia Miller/ quick and fun writing

Teaching middle school students writing can be an arduous process. Utilizing "quick
writes" can be an effective way to grab the fleeting attention of students at this age
and also serve as a foundation for teaching editing and revision skills. These short
writing sessions are usually no more than 60 minutes in duration and involve having
the students write an extended response to a prompt. Teachers can then use the
responses as a basis for revision or the drafts can be shared to get peer feedback.
C.D. Chapman

Quick Writing Ideas for Middle School Kids

ESL Quick Writing Activities


By Elise Wile,
Writing is an important part of any English as a Second Language (ESL) curriculum,
but it can be challenging as students typically learn to listen, speak, read and then
achieve writing fluency, in that order. According to John M. Green at Salem State
College, "For students who have not yet attained fluency...extensive writing in
informal contexts such as journals will probably be more helpful than practice in
revising and editing." Activities that provide informal writing experiences will give
ESL students both practice and confidence.

1. Color Association
o

Color association is a lightening-fast writing activity that reinforces students'


knowledge of colors and their function as adjectives. The teacher writes the names
of the colors on the blackboard and the students write the name for that color and
an object that is primarily the same color.
Alternatively, the teacher can write one color and challenge students to come up
with a list of objects that fit that color category in five minutes. This activity will
get students talking about vocabulary as they compete to write down the most
words associated with a color.
This activity works best with beginning and intermediate ESL classes.

2. Sequencing
o

To do a sequencing activity, the teacher writes the steps to an activity such as


"How to wash your hands" out of order on the blackboard. It is important that the
entire class be familiar with the activity to be sequenced. Students will attempt to
write down the steps in the correct order. The teacher can present the correct
sequence of events after everyone has had enough time to complete the activity.
As a follow-up to sequence writing, students can act out the process while saying
the steps out loud.
This activity can easily be adjusted for different ESL levels. The instructions
should have three to five steps for beginners, five to nine steps for intermediate
students and 10 to 15 steps for advanced students. Intermediate and advanced
students can do sequencing activities with fewer steps--the activity will be
quicker--but the sentence structure should be more complex.

Alien Adjectives
o

Alien adjectives is a fun writing activity where each student receives a drawing of
an alien. The alien should have several interesting features such as five eyes,
twenty toes, sharp teeth, etc. Students then describe the alien using numerical
words, colors and other adjectives. Intermediate students can extend the activity
by giving the alien a personality. Advanced students can write a story featuring
the alien as the main character.

Making a List
o

Students will enjoy learning more about one another when doing a list-making
activity. Here, the teacher gives a prompt to students, and the students make a list
of items, feelings, etc. that correspond with the prompt. Examples of good
prompts for this activity are:
"My refrigerator has..."
"Careers that have a high salary are..."
"My parents always tell me..."
This activity works best when a sample list--not the same topic--is written on the
board beforehand to model what is expected. The teacher sets a timer for five to
ten minutes and students write as much of the list as possible before it goes off.
Students then discuss the items on their list and why they selected them.
This activity works well with all levels. Beginning students should use lists that
deal with basic vocabulary.

Quick Writing Activities


By Kathy Burns-Millyard, eHow Contribu

Quick writing activities are an excellent way to help students of all ages improve
their writing and creativity. It encourages them to express their feelings, explore
questions big and small and learn more about themselves, others and the
environment around them.
Most quick writing activities are creative in nature, encouraging students to use
their imagination. Other writing activities are useful for reinforcing basic spelling,
grammar, punctuation and comprehension skills.

1. Day or Month Specific


o

Quick writing activities can be based around specific days, months and events in
history.
April is "National Garden Month," for example, and one quick writing activity
would be to to have your students write about a garden they have at home or at
their grandparents', one they've visited on vacation or one they'd like to plant for
themselves. Explain that gardens can be outdoors as well as indoors and in
containers too.

2. Dreams and Fantasies


o

Many quick writing activities can be centered around dreams and fantasies, while
being focused in specific ways.
"Last night I dreamed about..." or "The strangest dream I ever had..." are two
examples for using dreams as writing prompts.
Fun fantasy writing ideas kids love might include "I am an alien who looks like..."
or "What I as an alien think of my first visit to Earth..." and "If I were a superhero I'd be... Because..."

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3. Themed Journals
o

Writing in a journal for 10 to 15 minutes each day is an excellent activity for


people of all ages. Children in a classroom often need prompts to help them know
what to write about, however, so having different themes each week is one
approach they may enjoy.
Encourage the children to create a food journal one week, writing about
everything they've eaten that day or the day before.
The next week have them write about a different friend, and the following week
have them write about other children they don't like. Encourage them to write
about why the friends are friends and what it is they don't like about others.

4. Caught Ya's and Paraphrasing


o

These quick writing activities focus on basic grammar and comprehension instead
of creative writing.
For "Caught Ya's," put one or two short paragraphs of text on the blackboard with
punctuation and grammar errors purposely in place. Have the students copy the
text, fixing the errors as they go.
For paraphrasing exercises, write a brief paragraph or two on the blackboard and
instruct the students to write the same information down in their own words,
while keeping the same meaning and information.