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Quick Write Sparks to Kindle the Poet in All of Us by Paula Bourque

What is a Quick Write?

Over the coming months, I will stop by this Teach Write blog share a few ways you can use quick writes in your classroom and in your own writing life.

Before we begin exploring these ideas, let me share the meaning of the term 'quick write.'

  • A quick write is a short (5-10 minutes) and frequent (daily) burst of low-stakes writing in response to a “spark."

  • Quick writes are true to their name -- they do not involve planning, revising, or overly cautious forethought.

  • Quick writes constitute thinking on paper that helps the writer creatively explore ideas while boosting their volume of writing.

  • Quick writes are not writing prompts. Writers may choose NOT to write to the spark , but instead may choose their own response that was inspired by the spark.

  • Quick writes are never graded.

  • Quick writes can easily become a springboard for future writing. The writer can take time to revisit quick writes when they are in need of a writing idea.

  • Quick writes encourage the writer to play on paper. Writers may make lists, mind maps, narratives, sketchnotes, doodles, labels, or a combination of formats.

Quick Writes Across the Curriculum

In my book, Spark: Quick Writes to Spark Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms, and in the classrooms in which I coach, I will often offer quick writes as a way to help the writer think about topics in different ways.

If students can write for 5-10 minutes each day outside of language arts or writing workshops, they can begin to use writing as a way of thinking, problem-solving, wondering, and appreciating in any class.

You may choose to change the focus of quick writes every day or keep the same focus for several days.

There are many areas of the curriculum to focus on with quick writes, such as:

  • Informational quick writes to share what the writer knows, what they wonder, and what their opinions are on a topic

  • Appreciation quick writes to let writers reflect on art, music, photography, and literature

  • Creativity quick writes can be used to play with ways of composing and communicating

  • Social-Emotional quick writes help promote mindfulness, metacognition, and mindset

  • Primary quick writes with younger writers focus on automaticity and stamina - often at a letter/word level

There are no right ‘answers’ when it comes to quick writes since the quick write spark is meant to ignite thinking that is personal and unique.

The focus is on the process of thinking and writing, not the product of that writing.

Invite to Write

As a part of my monthly column on quick writes, I will also share some quick write sparks to get you started. You can use these sparks in your classroom or in your own writing.

In honor of April being National Poetry Month, let’s start with a poetry quick write.

Remember, what you write in a quick write will not look like a revised and polished piece of poetry. I like to think of quick write poems as POEM-ISH to take the pressure off of feeling like what you write needs to be literary and publishable!

The idea is to PLAY with words and ideas and have fun!


  1. Pick a word (randomly find one in a book, one that comes to mind, a random generator, or that fits with a theme in school).

  2. What do you visualize with that word?

  3. What meaning does it have for you?

  4. Think about where you could add line breaks and how the words could be arranged in a ‘poem-ish’’ way.

  5. For 5-10 minutes write what comes to mind.


  1. Think about a current event (personal, political, public) that you can capture in a quick write.

  2. What does this event mean to you?

  3. What does it lead you to think about? Feel?

  4. What do you want to remember about it?

  5. For 5-10 minutes write about the even in poem-ish form: Add phrases, line breaks, white space, rhyme or repetition if it works for you.

  6. Don’t think about writing in complete sentences like a newspaper article. Dance with it a bit!

While my daughter was away at college, I created a Docu-poem each week to document our lives at home and in the political world while she was away.

Here is one of them:

What will you write about?

If you’d like to share your quick write or any reflections from one of the quick write exercises, we’d love to hear about it! Tweet us at @TeachWriteEDU or use the #TeachWrite hashtag to share!


Paula Bourque is a Nationally Board Certified K-6 Literacy Coach in Augusta, Maine who is passionate about expanding the definition of writing. She is the author of two professional books on writing: Close Writing: Developing Purposeful Writers in Grades 2-6 and Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms, both with Stenhouse Publishers. Paula blogs regularly at You can also connect with Paula on Twitter at @LitCoachLady.

Thanks for reading!

At Teach Write, we believe that teachers who write make the best teachers of writers. Through this blog, we share ways to help both you and your students grow as writers.

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