Posts Tagged ‘The Quickwrite Handbook’

Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

Another week of writing from The Quickwrite Handbook by Linda Rief. I have two pieces of writing I’d like to share today. The first was a prompt after Cynthia Rylant’s When I Was Young in the Mountains. Linda Rief wrote a mentor text “When I Was Young at the Ocean.” I wrote “When I Was Young at Purple Creek.”

When I was young at Purple Creek, I dangled my toes in the trickle of water and watched minnows dart around them, sending tickles and goose pimples all the way up my skinny white legs. 

When I was young at Purple Creek, I buried my Barbies in the sand, played Treasure Island on the wrip-wrap shore, and let go of the leash so Loopy could wander and explore, bark at the squirrels. 

When I was young at Purple Creek, my fear of snakes was on high alert. Brother shouted a warning just to see me jump. We gathered treasures in a tin bucket (rocks, broken glass, colored leaves, mimosa seed pods, a baby frog).

My flip-flop feet toughened on summer days when I was young at Purple Creek. The trickle was my ocean. The shoreline my cave. The pine trees my towers. I was queen of Purple Creek.

Margaret Simon
Photo by Marta Wave on Pexels.com

The next text we read and wrote from was an Excerpt from The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett and Jory John.

That Kind of Teacher

On the first day of school, you can decide what kind of teacher you want to be. You can be the smiley teacher, the one who greets everyone at the door with “How are you today?” You could be the fashionable teacher, the one who turns heads with her new outfit each day. You could be the kind of teacher who knows everything about the new reading curriculum guidelines. The teacher who decorates her classroom in rainbow colors and files everything in matching color-coded binders. You could be the teacher who stands at the board and takes roll, who finishes her report cards on time. Or you could be that teacher who works as hard as her students. The curious teacher. The open-minded teacher. The teacher with a lot of stickers on the chart. When the school year starts, you can choose what kind of teacher you will be, the kind of teacher you will be for the rest of your life. 

Margaret Simon

And here’s 6th grader Chloe’s poem response for “I’m the Kind of Kid Who”

I’m the kind of kid
who leaves
at the end of class,
new kids asking why.
I say
“Guess” to hear
what they think.

I’m the kind of kid
who always does their work
or finishes their homework
in class so 
they have nothing left
to do.

I’m the kind of kid
whose teacher lets
them eat in class
as long as
she doesn’t see me.

I’m the kind of kid
who writes every day.
If you don’t 
know what I mean,
I’m doing it right now.

I’m the kind of kid
who is ready
for the weekend
and is actually
ready to come
back to school. 


Adelyn, 3rd grade, wrote about her sister and posted it here on FanSchool.

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Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for creating an amazing community of writers and a safe, welcoming space to write and share.

We are in our second full week of school, so it’s time to start slicing. I am pleased with the daily routine I’ve started this year with my students. Today, they came in and found their notebooks, opened them up to a clean page, dated it, and waited. Ah, yes. Routine of writing every day is taking hold.

This morning after our quick write, Jaden pointed to Katie’s filled page and said, “She told me she didn’t want to write this morning.” The magic of Linda Rief’s The Quick Write Handbook. Together we have done the first two quick writes in the book, Rambling Autobiography and On Being Asked to Select the Most Memorable Day in My Life. These were great set ups for writing a Slice of Life post on our class blog. (Kidblog has morphed into Fan School and we are not happy.)

I write alongside my students. For the rambling autobiography, Linda Rief suggests using three phrases on their blank page, at the top, middle, and bottom, and write to them. (I was born…, I lied to…, and A friend once told me…)

Rambling Autobiography

I was born under the Perseids meteor showers in a Mississippi torn by racial riots. When I was six, “camping out” in our front yard, we set it on fire, an accident that left me with a fear of fire and deep shame. Our house had the largest oak tree on the whole block. I’ve always imagined my grandmother as my guardian angel. I carry her name with me every day. I lied to my mother about the fire. A friend once told me to trust my gut. I could create a timeline of my life with parentheses of hurricanes.  I secretly like to listen to choral music and sing along the alto part. I once danced with Marilyn Singer’s husband. I’ve won an award for teaching writing but not for writing. 

Margaret Simon, notebook quick write 8/19/21

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With my gifted kids, I’ve been using Linda Rief’s Quickwrite Handbook. She offers mentor texts and prompts for writing. These mentor text quickwrite prompts give a jumpstart to a blog post. I write with my students. Today I want to share a few responses to “When I was Young in the Mountains” by Cynthia Rylant. Linda Rief wrote “When I was Young at the Ocean” and included many sensory images. We were able to see how using senses in our writing creates strong imagery for the reader to understand. Karson took us to his eye doctor appointment.

When I was young at the eye doctor, I was very nervous. I did not know what I would look like with glasses on. I did not know if I would even end up with glasses! We went to the eye doctor at Lens Crafters in the mall. They called me,” Karson, we are ready for you.”
        When I was young at the eye doctor they had to check my eyes. The room was really small.  The light was dim.  I sat in a rolling chair like my teacher’s. They made me look at a farmhouse while they took pictures. Then they made me look at a green light. That scanned my eyes. 
         When I was young, I cried and cried because I did not want to do the thingy where it blows air. The doctor was a woman, and she was so nice, she let me skip it. 
When I was young at the eye doctor, I thought I had to dilate my eyes but I also cried and cried and I had tears dripping with sweat because I was scared. But because I was crying, I did not have to do that either. 
          When I was young at the eye doctor, I eventually got glasses.  I was okay with it because I look so cool.  My glasses are my friends.  They still are. 

Karson, 5th grade

This summer I had to say good-bye to my parents’ house on the lake. The memories are bringing me back, and writing helps me process them.

When I was a Daughter at the Lake

When I was a daughter at the lake, I swung on the porch swing pushing off from a little plastic stool and listening to the squeak of the chains. Sometimes my father sat near me with his newspaper and a bowl of cereal. He’d look up to tell me a bit of news.  “Listen to this!” he’d exclaim, and I’d laugh internally at his total exasperation at the world.

When I was a daughter at the lake, I’d sleep late with no alarm set, waking to the scent of coffee and pancakes, maple syrup, melting butter.  Mom in her robe stood near the griddle and greeted me with a smile. “Good morning, sleepy-head.” 

When I was their daughter at the lake, worries melted away like the sunset on the horizon. We’d talk and talk.  Sometimes we’d sit silently watching the heron fishing. Their presence was enough. It still is. 

Margaret Simon, draft, 2019

Shaelon remembered his vacation to Florida this summer. Using the form helped him describe many details of the trip. This is just one of his four paragraphs. The repeated line is helpful in creating a framework for writing.

When I was nine at the beach, we got to the beach.I ran and felt the nice soft sand on my toes.I ran to the water and touched it.It felt warm and soothing.I ran in until it was to my waist.Now it felt cold.I hurried back to the shore and look for my mom.My sister and I sat down on the sand next to my mom and attempted to try and make a sand castle.We had made good progress until the tide came in and washed it away.I gave up and walked along the shore, picking up shells and looking at their beauty.I tried to see if I can hear the water lapping in the shell because my sister had told me I can.I ran back and showed my mom all the shells I had collected.

Shaelon, 6th grade

I will continue to find inspiring writing prompts in Linda Rief’s book. When we study other authors, we discover our own way to writing.

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