Think Write/Write Right Prompts

A major challenge for teachers is getting students to write freely, without getting bogged down and preoccupied with rote feedback and diffuse commentary on memorized material. Think Write prompts allow students to go deeper with their thinking by focusing on self-reflection and prior knowledge instead of on the material. A Think Write prompt is deceptively simple. It is exploratory and open-ended. It can take as long as you like, from one minute to a half hour. It can be performed during discussion or as a warmup at the beginning of class. It should never be graded, but only exist in order for the student to get an understanding of his or her own learning. It can be silent exercise, stimulus for an essay assignment, or an enhancement for group discussion. Here are a few examples of Think Write prompts:

“For the next three minutes, write the things you know, the things you think you know, that the things you’d like to learn more about cellular reproduction.”

‘When the author says, “The best-laid plans of mice and men / Often go awry,” what do you think he’s talking about?’

“I’ve had a picture of a cookbook on the wall from the very beginning of this unit on transcription and translation. Why do you think that is?”

In addition to Think Write prompts, there are also Write Right prompts, which encourage students to make a concrete judgement on what they think is correct or what they see is most important about a subject or idea. Write Right prompts are often less open-ended than Think Write prompts, but they are similar in their spontaneity and universal application to warmups, essays, and group discussions. Instead of only allowing students to reflect on their own understanding, Write Right prompts are more appropriate for teachers to use in order to gauge class understanding of materials, and they should therefore be given out as assignments to be turned in and graded. Here are some examples of Write Right prompts:

“What do you think are the three most important arguments made in this article?”

“How are transcription and translation alike? How are they different? Give four specific examples.”

“If you were giving an exam on the entire process of cellular evolution, what three questions would you put on the test?”

While Write Right prompts are bit more closed-off and focused than Think Write prompts, both techniques look to accomplish the same goal—to get students’ brains off of the material and into their own heads, in order to see what they have learned, how they have learned it, and what personal connections they have made with it.


One thought on “Think Write/Write Right Prompts

  1. Pingback: Literacy Lessons: Content and Structure | Mr. Taylor's Classroom

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