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Writing Prompts: 15 Super Reasons Every Teacher Should Be Using This Super-Strategy!

I start every ELA class with a short writing prompt that students complete for bell work while I care for housekeeping items, such attendance, lunch orders, checking homework, skimming notes from parents, etc. (I have a few minutes to check in with students while they are actively engaged in a productive learning activity. It's a win-win!)

In my class, we call this a Quick Write. Quick Writes are a super-strategy used to develop writing fluency, build the habit of reflection into learning, and informally assess student thinking! Here's a few other reasons Quick Writes should be used in every class every day (a literacy teacher's dream!):

Quick Writes:
-Help students become fluent, organized, confident, skilled  thinkers and writers!
-Activate prior knowledge
-Help students make personal connections
-Promote reflection
-Foster critical thinking
-Prepare students for discussion
-Increase background knowledge and broaden worldview (when shared)
-Reinforce vocabulary and language development
-Informally assess student knowledge about a given topic
-Increase engagement in Think-Pair-Share activities
-Help students brainstorm their thoughts
-I frequently tell my students that the most important ideas are often the most difficult to articulate. I Especially love Quick -Writes because they help students learn to articulate their thoughts in a safe environment, knowing the content of their writing is not going to be criticized! (See why I call this a Super-Strategy?!?)

Here's how I use Quick Writes:
  • When students enter my classroom, the Writing Task Card of the day is displayed on a Whiteboard. Students go directly to their seats, open their writing journals, choose one of the prompts, and start writing. (I always have instrumental music playing in the background. The students think I'm just plain awesome -- or plain corny, depending on the music genre of the day -- they don't realize I'm just using the music to help them focus and concentrate!)
  • I provide two to three prompts each day so students always have a choice, which is developmentally appropriate for tweens and teens and results in more pencils-to-the-paper and less "I can't think of anything to write!"
  • Sometimes my students beg me to let them write about the other prompt, too, and inside my heart is doing flip-flops because real live students are actually begging to write! (This is the stuff this ELA teacher's dreams are made of!)
  • If I finish my housekeeping chores with time on the clock to write, I write in my own journal. Students love it when I join them on a Quick Write!
  • Students who do not have their writing journals are still responsible to complete their Quick Writes on a blank sheet of paper from a basket I keep in the back of the room. They are responsible to attach these papers to their journal at their convenience (meaning: they come to my room when it's convenient for me -- usually during their breakfast or lunch -- to tape, staple, or glue their Quick Write into their journal . . . or to rewrite it if it's mysteriously lost).
  • Any of the prompts can be expanded, edited, revised, and turned in for an actual grade . . . a lifesaver on days when there is a substitute teacher in the class!

I have done Quick Writes with my students for years and I believe it is one of the most important activities on our agenda! I learn so much about my students that I would never know if I did not invite them to share their writing with the class. This helps me get to know students on a more personal level, builds rapport, and fosters a nurturing and caring classroom environment. I'm not exaggerating when I say Quick Writes frequently prompt my students to laugh together, cry together, and offer support to one another with hugs, fist-bumps, or high-fives.
I know that some of you are thinking you can't possibly come up with 2-3 high-interest prompts a day every day . . . the great news is, over 23 years of teaching, I've developed hundreds of interesting and engaging writing prompts that I'm compiling into resources in my TpT shop!
Here's one example:
Click here for a freebie from this set of writing prompts!

Stay tuned for one free set of writing prompts each month!


  1. Thank you for providing such a detailed overview of the instructional benefits of quick writes! I'm off to check out all of your quick writes right now!

    1. Thanks for checking out my Quick Write resources! I hope you adore this strategy as much as I do . . . and find some useful prompts! :)

  2. That sounds like a winning strategy! I hope lots of teachers are doing this!

  3. Son is not a fan of writing. He is more into science and math so he English teacher is really good about keeping him engaged.

  4. I have shared this with my kids too and will email a few teacher friends , this is GREAT info and such helpful tools!

  5. I really like the idea of giving kids a couple of different prompts to consider. Giving the a choice of different ideas let's them connect and engage. I loved writing as a student and would've loved Quick Writes!

  6. Very awesome. I like writing prompts myself, so I think it's great for my daughter to use them now that she's been learning to write stories and papers.

  7. What great information! I need to use these in my homeschooling for my 2 boys!

  8. Love these writers prompts! I am going to save these to use with our kids :)

  9. I like the idea of "Quick Writes" We did something like this waaay back in Grade 6 before the Bell but it was more to build our vocabulary

  10. I love this idea! The more writing kids do, the less stressful and overwhelming it will feel to them as they get older. Such an important skill.

  11. I could use this idea to help with blog posts! I love to write and this is great for writers's block too.

  12. This is such a great resource and I love the idea! Your Quick Writes strategy sounds interesting!

  13. It is a great idea to get the students started on writing at the beginning of class. It lets them know it is time for business, but it lets them ease into getting work done. What a great idea.

  14. I remember doing this in school. It's a fun exercise!

  15. This is a fantastic exercise = I have a few teacher friends I plan to share this with

  16. I remember this when i was schooling. and it is a great exercise.

  17. Awesome. A neat way to get kids to experience writing.

  18. What a great idea! I actually had a teacher who did this type of thing once and I loved it. I really like that you have more than one prompt idea too.


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