Skill-building Quick Write assignments are an excellent way to help students develop a new writing skill—or help them level up a skill where they know the basics—
in a more applied way than practice topics but a more focused way than in the context of a full-length essay.
What are Skill-building Quick Writes?
Skill-building Quick Writes are 10-15 minute writing tasks that ask students to exercise their writing muscles by practicing targeted writing and grammar skills.
Skill-building Quick Writes help students develop their writing skills by:
- targeting specific, discrete writing skills
- making skill practice fun through engaging tasks and delightful examples
- providing supports like tutorials and lessons
- sequencing skills at different difficulty levels so students can start where they need and ramp up their skills progressively
- cementing learning through exit ticket-like reflection questions
How can I use Skill-building assignments with my classes?
The following strategies can help your students get the most out of Skill-building Quick Writes assignments:
Pre-teach the skill, especially for beginner-level prompts where students need an introduction to the basics.
- Many prompts include links to interactive tutorials and/or lessons. You can present these through whole-class instruction or have students review them independently.
Assign NoRedInk practice topics in conjunction with Skill-building Quick Writes.
- Many Skill-building Quick Write assignments include links to practice topics that can pre-teach and/or reinforce the skill students practice in the Quick Write .
- For beginner-level prompts, we recommend assigning the linked practice topic before students do their Quick Write. For intermediate prompts, you can choose to assign the practice topic before or after students complete their Quick Write.
Assign the same skill at different levels, sequentially.
- Once your students have mastered the basics, you can assign the same skill at higher levels to give students more sophisticated strategies and/or deepen their understanding of the skill. See “How should I think about difficulty levels?” below.
Ask students to share out their answers to the reflection questions so they can learn from each other.
- As you know, students’ explanations of their learning are often even more understandable to their peers than our explanations as teachers!
Share out some of the best responses as models for other students—or have students help revise any responses that didn’t quite hit the mark.
- You can do this anonymously or ask students’ permission to share their work—you know your students best.
How should I think about the difficulty levels?
Many prompts have a difficulty level indicated in parentheses. These levels can help you think about which Skill-building assignment is right for your students, and about how to sequence Skill-building assignments within the same unit or school year.
Prompts marked “Beginner” are best for students who have had little to no exposure to a skill and who need to master (or re-learn) the basics. Whenever possible, we recommend assigning NoRedInk practice topics before students complete beginner-level prompts.
Prompts marked “Intermediate” are best for students who have been exposed to a skill before, can state their own understanding of the basics, and are now ready for more sophisticated strategies.
Prompts with no difficulty level indicated are suitable for all students who need help developing the skill.
What are Mentor Text Skill-Building Prompts?
are a specific type of skill building prompt that present students with short, authentic pieces of writing that demonstrate a specific grammar or writing skill, and then help students apply that skill in their own writing. These activities help build stronger writers by:
- demystifying strong writing by showing students how authors use discrete skills in published works
- encouraging skill transfer so that students can practice using specific grammar and writing skills in authentic, low-stakes writing tasks