The Ten Minute Teacher: Teaching Writing without Spending All Night Grading

So, who has time to spend all night grading? Let’s be real here. “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” This is how I do it that saves time. First of all, let me admit that above anything else I LOVE TEACHING WRITING. It’s one of the reasons I became an English teacher.

Akiria is working on an argumentative essay that she is about to type into her Google account.

I have a special table in the front of my room that is just for teacher-student writing conferences when I don’t need it for students to sit during class.

G is multi-tasking by listening to music for focus.  You can see his iPad screen is split between Google Docs and music.

I use ten minutes the night before to create a Google Doc that has several topics of varying difficulty and subject matter. We have been working on argumentative writing, and I have really been trying to incorporate current events.

This is an example assignment sheet for an argumentative essay.

Students usually listen to music which helps them concentrate while they write in my class. Sometimes we all listen to the same music, but I do get tired of the Michael Jackson requests. Sometimes we write collaboratively and sometimes we practice independence.

Dylan is focusing on correcting his essay based on my feedback after a writing conference.

During class, I have to be fully present. I walk around and help individual students as they are starting out. I coach. Then I provide less and less coaching as they become more independent. The last part of class I usually use my iPad or computer to comment about on their writing and encourage them.

As you can see, each student is on a different task.  Kendall (left) is working on his Lexile program Achieve 3000.  Jordan (center) is working on a vocabulary study tool.  Deangelo (right) is working on an argumentative essay while listening to music.  Kendall and Jordan are listening to the music playing in the classroom because they requested Michael Jackson be played.

The next day, I call each student up to my special table, my “Differentiation Station,” and we conference about their writing. Sometimes I have them read it aloud to me because that helps students learn to read with an editing ear and self-assess. While I conference, I am correcting and giving feedback. I can repeat this process as much as needed, but each cycle always takes at least two class days, but only ten minutes of prep for a busy teacher!

Notice Jakalah is working on s a peer review.  Students can also share their essays with each other for peer reviews.

Do you have ten minutes to make a great writing task? Spice those writing workshop conferences up with a positive classroom environment! Jam to some music! Pause once a block for a sing-a-long. Is that Adele I hear? Hello? It’s important that we create this type of environment students want to be!


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