SIP 2.8 One-Minute Quick Writes

Thirsty for Strong Instructional Practice?

Photo of male college student writingOne-minute quick-write activities ask students to stop what they are doing and produce a written response in only one minute. This technique can be used to collect feedback by asking them to identify what they thought the most confusing point of class was or to voice a question that was not answered in class. Responses do not need to be graded, or the instructor may wish to give students credit for participation in the quick-write.

Daily quick-writes provide the opportunity for practice that students need to develop clarity and fluency as thinkers and writers.  Many (non-traditional) college students have had little practice with formal writing assignments. Students learn, through practice, that they have ideas to write about, thoughts to ponder, opinions to express, and important stories to tell.

If instructors ask a few students to share their quick-writes, they become confident readers as well.  At the beginning of the semester, typically only a few students volunteer to read from their writing.  But by the middle of the term, there is often insufficient time to hear from everyone who would like to share.

Types of quick writes:

  • Critical thinking warm-ups: use the quick-write at the start of a class to get students focused on a new concept, or the material from last class, or preparatory reading material, etc.
  • Student-directed quick-writes: have students lead the quick-write session, having prepared a question in advance and thought through a method for fielding the responses
  • Class-closers: as with the warm-ups, use the quick-write to prompt reflection through summary, synthesis, explanation, a question.
  • Exchange quick-writes: have students exchange their quick-writes with a partner and ask for a follow-up quick-write from each that synthesizes the shared views.

Take a SIP of This: Implement One-Minute Quick Writes

Step One. Pose the question that you wish students to answer. Some of the more common forms of questions include:

  • What was the muddiest point in today’s class (or reading, discussion, etc.)?
  • What questions do you have that remain unanswered?
  •  What was the most important thing you learned during this class (from the reading, activity, etc.)?
  • What was the main point of the in-class activity/experiment?
  • Summarize what was learned
  • Connect to background information or students’ lives
  • Explain content concepts or vocabulary
  • Make predictions, inferences, and hypotheses
  • Pose a question that addresses a key point in the reading selection

Variations on Step One

  • One-word quick-writes. Students respond to one word written on the board.
  • One-minute quick draw. Students diagram or draw in response to a prompt.
  • Students can generate their own quick-write questions and prompts.
  • Students can share their responses in small groups and compare their answers
  • Students can work in small groups to create a quick-write, with each student offering one sentence in a round-robin fashion.

Step Two. Share and/or collect the responses and quickly review.

Step Three. Respond to student comments/ common themes.

  • If there is a concept or issue that several students all mention as a problem, that can be an indication that the instructor needs to spend more time on that topic.
  • With large classes, it generally works best to collect responses at the end of one class period and spend a few minutes at the beginning of the next class discussing them.
  • Some instructors will randomly draw a student response from the pile and respond specifically to that comment.

Still Thirsty? Take Another SIP of: One-Minute Quick Writes

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