A procedure I appreciate in many writing workshops is the use of a quiet writing time (Some teachers call in No Walk No Talk. It happens after the minilesson in order to give the writers in the room a chance to settle into their writing. Here are some reasons I like this procedure.
- It provides a chance for students to develop the skill of focusing on the task at-hand.
- Often, young writers seem to need a little solace in order to focus on their work. A quiet writing time — with no talking and no walking — provides this opportunity.
- I like to use music during this time. It covers the noises of digging through art boxes or tapping pencils. It also provides a signal for the end of quiet writing when it is turned off. Since some writers prefer to work with music and others don’t, using music during quiet writing and then turning it off provides a balance for both kinds of writers.
- Quiet writing provides teachers the opportunity to write with their students. Not only is this one way to model, but it also gives teachers a chance to write something to use in an upcoming minilesson.
- This quiet writing time is a matter of minutes — usually less than five. The purpose is to help students quickly settle in to work time. Once writers are serious about their work, I begin conferring.
- I often tell students they can tell quiet writing is over because they will see the teacher walking and talking. I also make it clear that they are to continue working, even after “No Walk No Talk” time is over.
- This procedure works from kindergarten (Give it a try if you don’t believe me! Just put on some wordless music, tell your students there is no walking or no talking while the music is on and watch them transform into writers. Don’t give in to the temptation of answering their questions during this time. Everyone writes!) through high school. Occasionally I’ve met a rare class that settles into writing time without needing a quiet writing time.
- As students become accustomed to this procedure, a culture is created of writers who get to work as efficiently as possible after the minilesson.
Let me know how quiet writing time goes in your classroom.
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