• Jennifer Laffin

Writing Intervention: Keep It Short by Dr. Jennifer Floyd



There are students in our classrooms who need writing interventions that are above and beyond regularly provided instruction.


Often, just providing additional time for students to write is the best place to start with students who need extra support.


When students are struggling readers, we know that they need time interacting with texts in order to develop and practice their skills.


The same is true for student-writers.


They need time to practice what they’ve learned above and beyond their regular instructional time.


Whether this additional time is provided by the literacy interventionist, the classroom teacher, or another adult, it doesn't have to be long to be effective. I've found that even ten minutes will do the trick.


While ten minutes may not seem significant, I discovered that these minutes made a difference for my intervention students. For students who struggle with writing, ten minutes is a good amount of time to get some words on the page without getting overwhelmed.



What to Write?


During this ten minute block, it's important to keep the writing activities both low-stakes and engaging.


Remember, the idea is to help students develop skills and an appreciation of writing, not learn to disklike it even more than they may already with drill & kill activities.


It is also very engaging when students see their teacher writing so pick up your pen and write with your students too.


Keep things light and fun and you'll be surprised what happens!


Here are some ideas to get you started:


  • Writing Sparks: I put together a collection of writing sparks from when I participated in the Slice of Life Story Challenge (SOLSC) hosted at twowritingteachers.org. Ten minutes is the perfect time to explore a 'spark.' You can find my collection here, but also check out fellow Teach Write blogger, Paula Bourque's book, SPARK! for even more ideas. (affiliate link)

  • Pick a Word: Use a random word generator to pick a word. Ask students to write about the word and see where it takes them. They can write in any genre.

  • Picture Prompt: Keep a file of magazine pictures. Pass out pictures or use the same one for the whole group. Students write story behind what's going on in the photo.

Implementing writing-focused interventions in a short amount of time can be challenging, but is necessary if we are to reach all of our student-writers.


Just remember -- a lot of progress can be made just by increasing the volume of words our struggling writers write.


With a few short, engaging, and low-stakes (not graded) writing activities, your struggling writers may soon become soaring writers!



Invitation to Write

  1. What is the most challenging aspect of providing intervention time in your classroom? Take five to ten minutes to explore the issues that you might face. Then, take another five to ten minutes to brainstorm solutions to these issues.

  2. Choose one of the writing sparks from my list and complete it on your own. After writing, reflect on how this spark can be incorporated into your classroom.



Dr. Jennifer Floyd is a reading specialist from Virginia, where she works with students to help them become the best readers and writers they can be! Jennifer will share her ideas about writing intervention here on the blog every month to help you find new ways to reach your writers. You can connect with Jennifer on Twitter and on her blog.






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