Timed Writing

comp bookAt the beginning of the school year and anytime during the year that I deemed necessary, I assigned what I called timed writing.

Writing Warm-up: I had noticed that at the beginning of the year, the children would freeze up when asked to complete any type of writing assignment that did not require copying. I understood what they were going through and decided to have them sit for a certain amount of minutes each day and write anything. This was different because "anything" literally meant any legibly written word, or group of words, and hopefully sentences.

Composition Book: The children did all of their timed writing exercises in a sewn composition book like the one pictured above. These composition are very common in the USA and are typically generously discounted during back-to-school sales. I gave each of my children a composition book, and they used the same composition book for timed writing every year, picking up on the next clean page.

Level: 3rd grade and higher (or start earlier if there is a need).


How to do Timed Writing

Timed WritingThere is one rule. Tell them before every session: Write any words or sentences that you want to write in legible handwriting for [a specified amount of time].

To clarify the rule: The children can write anything they want to write as long as they are writing words, not random letters or numbers. They do not have to write in complete sentences. It's nice if they do and those who do not start out writing in complete sentences might do so eventually during the course of this exercise. The point is writing something on a blank sheet of paper. Some children are intimidated by blank paper and they need to get over that.

Optional: Give each child an opportunity to read his or her work aloud as soon as the timed exercise is over.

Evaluation: No grades are given for this exercise. If the children do not break the rule stated above, then do not negatively comment on what they write during this exercise. Remember, this exercise is a tool that is designed to help the child become more comfortable with writing thoughts on paper.

Schedule: Listed below is a schedule for four weeks along with the amount of time to use. You can stop the exercise at any point if your children have become more comfortable with writing. Otherwise, if there are time restrictions, you may reduce the exercises to every other day after the first week.

During the first and second weeks:

  • Do the exercise at least 4 days in a row, every day is better.
  • Time them for 5 minutes.
  • Do not say anything negative about what they write, some kids just write the same word or sentence over and over at first. That usually improves.

During the third week:

  • Do the exercise at least 4 days in a row.
  • Time them for 7 minutes.

During fourth week:

  • Do the exercise at least 4 days in a row.
  • Time them for 10 minutes.

Donna Young
October 4th, 2007, edited 08/29/2013

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