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Guided Freewrite

Page history last edited by PBworks 16 years, 7 months ago

Guided Freewrite: Writing Down the Bones

Please note that I designed this activity, so if you use it and describe it on your blog, please credit me with a link. Thanks!

(The title of this activity comes from a book by Natalie Goldman)


Text: None


Materials: Chart paper (three sheets) or chalkboard. Students need looseleaf paper.



Development of Learning Activity:



  • Instruct students to fold the looseleaf about a third of the way in to create a crease. Draw a line down the crease.


  • To the left of the crease, write "Prompt #1".


  • Before giving this lesson, decide on what prompts you want to use. I use prompts that are related to the topic of the final product. You can use prompts related to a text that you are reading, as well. For example, the last time I used this exercise, my students were getting ready to write personal essays, so I chose three prompts: New York City, South Bronx, Your Block.


  • You will reveal the prompts one at a time, either by uncovering it on the chart paper or writing it on the board.


  • The key to this guided freewrite is having the students write NON-STOP for a determined amount of time. The first prompt should be short (maybe 2 or 3 minutes), with each subsequent prompt getting longer. By the time I got to the 3rd prompt, the students were writing non-stop for five minutes. The next time I do this exercise, they will write for a longer period of time.


  • Instruct students to respond to the prompt in the space to the right of the crease. If a student cannot think of anything to write, he or she can either write the same word over and over again, or write "I can't think of anything to write" over and over again.


  • With each new prompt, write "Prompt #__" to the left of the crease, next to where the new prompt will pick up.


  • When you are finished giving the prompts, tell students to shake their hands out and get ready for one more bit of writing. Have them write "Process Writing" to the left of the crease. To the right of the crease, they should reflect on what they wrote by reading over their words and writing down what they noticed or felt about their writing (just a few sentences).


  • I collect these guided freewrites, read them over and highlight my favorite phrases or lines. Eventually, they will use these pieces to start their personal essay (but that's another lesson!) or whatever writing assignment you want them to produce. I don't grade them but they do get credit in the form of a check in the gradebook.




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