Michele just posted about this great idea as well, but I’ll write about it too in case any of you are not regulars on her blog (which I highly recommend!).
Betsy shared this idea that she received from a substitute teacher for her English class. Instead of a traditional Free Write, which for many of us means 10 minutes of writing (sometimes with a topic; often without), he suggested that the students do a scaffolded Free Write.
First, have students write for one minute. After the one minute, they should count up their words and write the total next to their work.
Second, have students write for three minutes. First, they should copy what they wrote the first time (they could fix mistakes if they catch them, but should not spend lots of time thinking about editing), and then continue on and write more. Have them do another word count at the end of three minutes.
Third, have students write for ten minutes. First, they should copy what they wrote during the three minutes (again, fixing mistakes but not necessarily editing), and then continue on and write more. Have them do a final word count at the end of the ten minutes.
The idea behind this is that students often have trouble transferring what they want to say from their brains to the paper. By writing in steps and repeating what they have previously written, they are ‘priming’ themselves, and you should find that students will write more than 3x the original word count in the second step, and more than 10x the original word count in the final step.
The whole process takes about 20 minutes, but it will be encouraging for your students to see just how much they can write!
Students can write on normal, lined paper, but I prefer to use this form that includes counted word lines and rubrics…it makes the whole thing go more smoothly!