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Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms- Review & Giveaway

 

Summer 2002. I am catching my breath after an exhausting, full-of-mistakes first year of teaching.  On the top floor of the Tower at Nassau Community College, I am sitting around a table with educators from different grade levels and years of teaching experience. We are at the Long Island Writing Project Summer Invitational Institute and a teacher has just finished reading an excerpt from There’s a Boy in the Girl’s Bathroom by Louis Sachar. As the teacher’s voice fades, we all pick up our pens and begin to write.  For a few minutes, the only sound is pens dancing across pages. We are given the signal to find a place to end our sentence. Capping our pens, we prepare to share some or all of what we wrote. 

My introduction to quick writes came through my time with the Long Island Writing Project. Each day of the Summer Institute began the same: a teacher would read some type of text to the group and then we would all respond in writing. The writing was completely free- the writer could select the form and content. It always amazed me to hear how other writers found different entry points into the same text. (Totally proving Louise Rosenblatt’s Transactional Theory). Warming up with a quick write each day helped all of us grow as writers. We played with language and words, we were inspired for future pieces of writing, and we used our writing muscle daily. The shared texts also helped the group grow as a community- we had a communal bank of characters and stories to refer back to in conversation. This process did not take a lot of time but it was memorable, meaningful and moved us forward as writers.

Paula Bourque’s new book, Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms (Stenhouse Publishers 2019) reminds me that it is possible to replicate my quick write experience with the Long Island Writing Project in my own third grade classroom. Not only possible, but made easy with all of the ideas and resources Paula shares in this treasure trove! Paula defines “quick writes” as “short and frequent bursts of low-stakes writing in response to a stimulus (spark) that do not allow for planning, revising, or overly  cautious forethought. They constitute thinking on paper that helps students creatively explore ideas while boosting their volume of writing” (7). Put more simply, she says, it is “Thinking and Inking.”

Each chapter begins with one of Paula’s own quick writes on the chapter’s focus. Quick Glance is a feature found in each chapter and it is a brief summary statement of what you will find in the next pages. The chapter ends with a Quick Write Invite, providing the reader with prompts to try your own quick write based on the material you just read. There are multiple examples of student writing and useful charts throughout the entire book.

  • Chapter One asks the reader to think about the purpose of writing and then the benefits of daily quick writes.
  • Chapter Two describes how to use quick writes and the different ways teachers can incorporate them into the day. (Quick writes are separate from Writing Workshop.)
  • Chapter Three focuses on primary writers who are developing automaticity with letters and words. There are many great strategies for building fluency for younger writers.
  • Chapter Four has a myriad of ideas for quick writes around informational topics. There were so many brilliant ideas for incorporating quick writes into all areas of the curriculum to help students show and grow their thinking.
  • Chapter Five is all about the Arts and ways to incorporate appreciation for art, music, poetry, and other literature. Wordless books and book trailers are included as sparks for quick writing.
  • Chapter Six centers on creativity and communication. Students try out different forms of poetry and figurative language. There are great ideas here for using first lines of books to spark writing and titles of books as well. Letter writing is also incorporated here with powerful ideas for inspiring student writing.
  • Chapter Seven (one of my favorites!) is about social-emotional quick writes as well as metacognition and mindset. Paula writes, “We can boost the volume and practice of writing while increasing self-awareness when we combine writing and reflection” (147).
  • Chapter Eight is just the inspiration your school might need to work towards building teachers who write. Paula shares how she was able to lead her colleagues to develop as writers by incorporating short quick writes into their day. She shares such smart ideas here for building a culture and community of writers among the educators in a district.

Throughout the chapters, Paula shares QR codes and links to a plethora of resources. She has compiled infographics, cartoons, videos, photographs, artwork, music, and more so a teacher has an instant bank of sparks for quick writes. The idea is to grow your own collection, tailored to your unique school’s personality, but Paula’s collections are an amazing place to start.

Paula’s first book, Close Writing, really impressed me with her authenticity and creative ideas for helping students think about their writing in deeper ways. This book, Spark! once again shows me that Paula is an educator who lives and breathes the teaching of writing with children and educators each day. Her passion shines through each page. This book is both inspirational and utterly practical. Paula has made it so easy to see how quick writes can be incorporated into your day with impactful results. If you haven’t read Spark! yet, be sure to comment below for a chance to win you own copy (thank you Stenhouse!).  Add Spark! to your summer reading list and try out some of the quick writes yourself!

Below are some of my favorite quotes that Paula shared in this must-read book.

 

 

 

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

  • This giveaway is for a copy of Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms. Thanks to Stenhouse Publishers for donating a copy for one reader. (You must have a U.S. mailing address to win a print copy of this book.)
  • For a chance to win this copy of Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms leave a comment by Friday, June 14th at 11:59 pm EDT. I will use a random number generator to pick the winner’s commenter number. The lucky recipient will be announced at the bottom of this blog post no later than Monday, June 17th.
  • Please leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Stenhouse Publishers will ship the book to you. (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will email you with the subject line of TWO WRITING TEACHERS – SPARK! Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. A new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

97 thoughts on “Spark! Quick Writes to Kindle Hearts and Minds in Elementary Classrooms- Review & Giveaway Leave a comment

  1. This is just the book I’ve been looking for! In our school district we are so heavy on big writing projects that require research. I’ve been looking for ways to incorporate motivating writing as part of my daily writing curriculum in my third-grade classroom.

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  2. I am glad to know about this book. I am going to get it. I will use it to spark my own writing practice and may be able to use it with my reading intervention students.

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  3. I am very interested in this book. I am kind of the lone ranger in my building as a writing teacher who LOVES to teach writing with 2nd and 3rd graders. This is so unfortunate. However, this book could be a bridge to encourage other teachers to try out some daily writing.

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  4. Thank you for the in-depth review. I’ve been trying to curb my PD book purchase until I get through the ones I currently own, so I would love to win this one. Paula is a friend and her work always amazes me! I recently won the Quickwrite Handbook and I’m guessing these two would pair well together to help me get started with my 5th graders!

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  5. I’m inspired to read Spark after reading your comments! I especially want to incorporate quick writes to support social/emotional learning and student reflections on learning.

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  6. I am so excited to learn about this new resource!
    I teach 3rd grade. Last summer, I purchased Linda Rief’s The Quickwrite Handbook. Yes, I knew she was a middle school educator and that most of her material may be geared for that age. I could not wait to see what I could use with MY children (minor adaptations would be needed of course.) So, we used the concept this year. My students loved doing quickwrites. They would literally cheer prior to beginning one.
    The fact that this title by Paula Bourque was purposely written with elementary children in mind has me pumped up! Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

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  7. The book sounds amazing. Love the quotes you’ve selected. And even though the book is geared to elementary teachers and writers, my sense is it’s adaptable for older students as well.

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  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Paula’s book. It’s so much more in depth than I expected! You have really piqued my curiosity! Love the idea of incorporating quick writes throughout the day, even SEL! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy and add it to my growing pile of PD books yo read!
    ~Michelle

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  9. We tried using some of Linda Rief’s quick writes from her book in our 6th grade class this year. The kids love them, but most of the pieces in her book seemed geared towards high school students or upper middle. So, I started selecting my own pieces and making my own prompts. I am excited to take a look at “Spark” and how quick writes work for her on the elementary level.

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  10. Can’t wait to read the book! I love the idea of quick writes and that the book comes with a plethora of on line resources.

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  11. I purchased a quick write book not too long ago and it was more for middle and high school. I need this one! This kind of work demystifies the writing process for students by just getting them to write! THEN the growth can happen and they become writers!

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  12. I had been intimidated by the thought of quick writes with first and second graders. What I’ve just read encourages me to open my mind to this. The chapters of this book, I believe, will do that and guide me through this personal challenge.
    Eileen Hardin
    Metairie Park Country Day School
    300 Park Road
    Metairie, LA 70005

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  13. I completely agree with Paula’s emphasis on volume. Becoming active, regular writers is the entry point to writing. Sounds like a wonderful text full of useful and practical ideas!

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  14. I would love to have this book! It sounds like a perfect inspiration to help support our school’s struggling writers (and teachers struggling with writing as a subject!). We could use any help we get!

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  15. I’m so excited to read and use this book! What a great way to teach children that the writing muscle is a muscle like others in our body. It’s important for kids to understand that anyone can be an excellent writer.

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  16. How exciting! I’ve tried quick writes with just giving words, but this book sounds like a great way to take it to the next level.

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  17. This is an amazing book. Thoughtful. Energizing. So many applications for teachers and students. And then all the examples Paula shares.

    I used to think I understood quick writes until I read this and Linda Rief’s Quick Writes. Then I found out that I used my prompts as an “on-demand” and that is why both my students and I hated them. Lesson Learned!

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  18. This sounds like a FANTASTIC summer read for a teacher who needs a break, but still loves doing this work – a perfect balance of motivator, encourager, and reliever. 🙂

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  19. Spark! sparked my curiosity. Haven’t used quick writes very effectively and would love guidance on how to make better use of them with my fourth graders.

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  20. I’d love to have a copy of her book as an instructional coach working with writing teachers. I especially enjoy the quotes included.

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  21. This book sounds amazing! I have never run a quick-write connected to literature, but I’d love to learn more to implement next year.

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  22. My teachers have been using Linda Rief’s Quickwrites in the 6-12 classrooms. Love that we have a K-5 alternative out there now – thanks for all your hard work Paula!

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  23. I am so excited to see a book that will give me additional Quick Write ideas. Volume of writing is so important. Quantity builds quality!

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  24. I am a kindergarten teacher and believe it’s important to get students writing and thinking about writing as early as possible.

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  25. Sometimes the most meaningful instruction comes from quick bursts of creativity and ideas. I think this simple idea would be a great resource to build a writing community in a low stakes, quick paced manner. Sounds like a fantastic read.

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  26. I have always been a firm believer in quick writes. Students have an amazing ability to connect in ways I would never dream of. As I move from years of teaching 4th grade down to second, I am anxious to continue this practice. I would live to win a copy!

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  27. I love the idea of low-stakes writing to support deep thinking and writing fluency. Great giveaway! Good luck, all!

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  28. My personal goal for my classroom next year is to be a better writing teacher. I would love to dive into this book and add quick writes to my classroom!

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  29. Thank you for the chance to win this book! Quick writes were a memorable part of my Writing Project experience also. I am so glad that this author has dedicated a chapter on how to use this idea with early writers.

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  30. I have Paula’s book on my list, but I haven’t bought it yet. I followed her March Slices and used some in my classroom. I hope to use more quick writes next school year. Like you, I went through the writing project and writing for a short time each day was the thing that most grew my writing practice.

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  31. I would love to add a quick write time to my third grade classroom schedule! This book would be just the “spark” I need to get started. I plan to read this book this summer so I can start right away with my class in August.

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  32. Thank you for the detailed review of this book! I have The Quickwrite Handbook, but many of the entries are too mature for my elementary students. I would love to use this book with my students to increase the volume of their writing. The title of the book really sums it up! We want to give them that spark to get their ideas flowing.

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  33. I would love to read this book this summer! I have been using Writing Workshop got many years, but can see the power in quick writes with my 3rds. Thank you!

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    • Wow! What an informative and passionate review. The idea of volume ties in nicely with last night’s #G2Great chat. Excellent quotes got me inspired and one by a favorite author, Ray Bradbury

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  34. Thanks for such an inspiring overview of Spark! The concepts expressed validate my experiences with both engaging in Quick Writes as well as teaching them.

    Barbara

    Liked by 1 person

  35. I too was changed as a writer and as an educator after my experience with the Shenandoah Valley Writing Project. I am interested in the QR codes to useful “sparks,” and the social emotional quick write chapter is a two for one! VOLUME matters. Thanks for the post.

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  36. I would love to read this book. Teaching writing is my weakness and I need to work on ways to improve. Thanks for the post and a chance to win this resource.

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  37. I am always looking for new ways to foster creative writing with my students. Writing is too often formulaic anymore. This book sounds like it has some great ways to help build that love of authentic writing for my students!

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  38. I’m so inspired by this to improve my own writing and be ready fo pass on my new skills to a new group of students this fall. I love the ideas in this blog post.

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    • Each year I seem to have a handful of students who struggle with stamina and/or getting started. I struggle to see myself as a writer and worry that I unintentionally send this message to students. This idea of quick writes separate from our workshop time might be just the answer. I’d love to have a copy of this text.

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  39. This sounds like an amazing way to get students to see writing as normal as breathing. I can’t wait to try out some new ideas!

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