March Literacy Tip

Dear Colleagues,
Our March Literacy Tip will focus on a versatile strategy – Quick Write.  Noted educator Ted Sizer states, Writing is the litmus paper of thought . . . the very center of school.


A Quick Write engages students in rapid writing for a short period of time on a suggested topic or one of their choosing.  Teachers can provide open-ended prompts or questions to focus the Quick Write before, during, or after reading.  Quick Writes are used to develop writing fluency, to acquire the habit of reflection, and to informally review student thinking.


Writing helps students connect the dots of knowledge, to find out what they know and what they don’t know, and to help make knowledge their own.  Reading and writing are connected – readers read writing; writers write reading.  Strategic readers use writing to help them process what they read; when reading complicated text they reach for a pencil to make notes in the margin.  We all have experienced writing our interpretations or reactions to something we have read; writing deepens our understanding of what it read.  Why?  Writing is the visible surface of thinking.  

Quick Writes
  • activate prior knowledge
  • provide a purpose for reading
  • organize ideas for deeper understanding
  • strengthen vocabulary
  • encourage critical thinking
  • promote personal connections
  • foster reflective thinking
  • assess student knowledge about a specific topic



Even the youngest child loves to write; my two-year-old grand daughter takes great delight in writing grandma a message and reading it back.  Because strong writing skills complement reading development, all students, young and old, must be given time to write independently.  When writing is emphasized and modeled by the teacher, students subsequently become more fluent readers with higher levels of comprehension.
Quick Writes are informal in structure, appropriate for all content areas; they are ongoing, brief, reflective, tentative, and exploratory in nature.  Examples of open-ended prompts or questions used by teachers are:

  • I could learn better if …
  • I am challenged to learn best when …
  • I would like to have more choice in …
  • Being a team player means …
  • In what ways has jazz influenced society?
  • What might a person eat to provide a healthy diet?
  • What are possible themes embedded in Leslie Connor’s book, Miss Bridie Chose a Shovel?

To provide variety, different strategies can be used for Quick Writes.  Examples include:

  • Think/Ink/Pair/Share
  • Most Valuable Point (MVP)

When readers explore, expand, and keep track of their learning through writing, they can revisit their thinking and chart their growth as learners, discovering what they know and what they have yet to learn.  Provide students numerous opportunities to record their thoughts, use ideas from this Literacy Tip, and watch students’ understanding of content increase.  
“… because, for one thing, becoming a better writer is going to help you
become a better reader, and that is the real payoff.”
from Bird by Bird by Anne LaMott
Please forward this email to other interested colleagues.  Interested readers can go to to sign up for future Literacy Tips.  For more information on writing see Strategic Reading in the Content Areas, 2nd ed. and for more Quick Write strategy ideas see Strategies to Engage the Mind of the Learner, 2nd ed.