Here’s the basic concept of power writing: You start with 2 words on the board, writers pick 1, and then write like crazy for 1 minute. Do 3 rounds, counting and charting the number of words each time.
You can see my original post about Power Writing here:
And here is the link to preview Jeff Anderson’s 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know at Stenhouse Publishers:
And here is the update: I did 5 rounds of power writing with a class of fourth graders, followed by 1 round we called super power write because we did one 3 minute round instead of the 3 one minute rounds. We concluded with each writer choosing their favorite 1 minute write to edit and expand into a longer piece. They copied their chosen writing, finishing the last sentence if they had stopped mid-sentence during the 1 minute write. Then I gave directions for editing. (Read the writing to see if it sounds right and fix anything you want to. One by one, check for capitalization, subject-verb agreement, and spelling and make corrections.) Next, we did 3 one minute rounds, adding more to the story and taking time (1 minute) to edit what was just written between each round- for these rounds, we did not count words- the point was to finish the story. At the end of the 3 rounds, they could add 1 or 2 more sentences if they needed to in order to conclude their stories. Then they read and edited it one more time before choosing a title and making a “final” copy.
We started on March 9 and finished on March 23. Throughout the process, I posted some of the writing from each session in the hall, and recorded the number of words on a class chart. The entire wall by the classroom is now covered with writing! Here are the words and chart. The students all kept a chart of their own progress, too.
So here are a few of my observations and conclusions about the process: The students were enthusiastic throughout the whole process, and are still begging for more! One student made rays coming out of the word power on the heading of his paper- I think that was to show how much he likes it! Writers showed an overall increase in the number of words they could write in one minute, although they did go up and down from day to day. How well they liked the words for each round, as well as the repeated practice contributed to the increases. It seemed they wrote with more voice in these short pieces, and used more descriptive word choices (this is a general impression, I didn’t do an analysis). Use of conventions was pretty much non-existent, even for the stronger writers- however, ideas were clearly communicated. Some writers used words in all capital letters and lots of exclamation marks to make their point clear. No one just sat or said they didn’t know anything to write- everyone was writing, every time. One student who began the very first round with 5 words was consistently writing sentences with 8-20 words by the last rounds. Several students created fiction. Some wrote humorous pieces. Many wrote about personal experiences using details. One student wrote a persuasive essay. I was impressed with the results. Power writing definitely helps students get into the flow of writing and develop some writing muscle- Anderson’s stated goals in his book.
Here is my personal favorite student writing from our Power Writing. This is the piece the student revised and edited on the last day of this month of Power Writing.
Here are a few other excerpts of student writing:
Thanks for reading such a long post! It’s at least half a pie, not just a slice!