Power-Writing from Jeff Anderson


Jeff Anderson’s Power Write from 10 Things Every Writer Needs to Know

1. Teacher displays two words. 
2. Students select one.
3. “Write as much as you can as fast as you can, as well as you can for one minute. Go.”

My husband gave me two words:

My backpack is an abysmal hole of doom.
Things go in never to be seen again.
I can’t seem to find anything in my backpack.
It is the dark hole of my existence.
I wish I could find my keys.
I know I put them somewhere in my backpack.
I wonder if I have any food in my backpack.
I can carry three laptops in my backpack.

Okay, so no Pullitzer for me here, but interesting.

4. Teacher calls time. “Stop writing. Life your pencil up in the air. Draw a line underneath what you just wrtore. Count the numbers of words you wrote.”
5. Students record word count under the line.
6. Teacher records results for each round on a chart.
7. Repeat for a total of three rounds.

Just one round for me tonight. 67 words.
I wonder what my word count would if I wrote by hand.

I haven’t tried this with my students yet, but I will soon. Anyone tried this?


11 thoughts on “Power-Writing from Jeff Anderson

  1. I work with kids who find reading and or writing challenging. I do this with my third graders on Fridays – as a sort of reward for writing good reading responses all week! I usually put a character's name from one of the stories we have read or some of our vocabulary words from the week. Most of the reluctant writers are moer willing to write because the time is restricted! I refer to it as my mini assessment – which it is!


  2. I use a version of this that I learned in a National Writing Project workshop and from Penny Kittle's book, Write Beside Them. In this version, no words are given, but you write for 2-3 minutes, count the words, draw the line. Then reread your writing. Choose one line that you like, or you think you can expand. Write that line on the next page and write from there, again about 2-3 minutes. Count the words. Reflect: What did you notice about the two writings?This technique is one I use many times to help students come up with ideas for their writing or unblock them if they are stuck.I have given words before that they can start from if they are afraid that nothing will come to them. For the most part, this strategy works with my high school students. StephanieHttp://boxofchocolates29.wordpress.com


  3. Yes, I have used it and the students enjoyed the counting of words. It had the feel of a race to them and they tried to beat their "best" time. We also could talk about how sometimes the choices just didn't work for us. And why that would happen…it was hard to connect or be interested in a word that didn't spark something in them.


  4. I try this at the beginning of the year and then near test time – a great activity. You composed a wonderful poem – loved he way you captured MY backpack:My backpack is an abysmal hole of doom.Things go in never to be seen again.I can't seem to find anything in my backpack.It is the dark hole of my existence.


  5. Maya, this is a great way to build writing stamina and fluency and you have experienced its power. I am currently using it with groups of students to increase their word output. We call it speed writing and they love it, particularly when they notice how their capacity for composing text increases with practice. I guess you are sold on it now that you have experienced it yourself.Alan


  6. I have been doing this with 4th graders…posted on March 9 about initial experience- "More, more," they said. I will probably do a follow-up, too. We did 3 rounds of 1 minute writes on five different days and then a day where we did a 3 minute write. The students have been enthusiastic throughout. One student who began with 3 rounds of less than 10 words was consistently writing in the 11-20 range and occasionally more…and wrote complete and interesting sentences! Other students really seemed to develop voice in their short pieces. Well, I'll save further comments to post in a slice later…but I guess you can tell I found it to be a good strategy.


  7. These kinds of activities are very important and necessary because they are writing AS thinking. Too often we artificially separate the two: THINK about what you're going to write kids, and THEN write it. DON'T write until you've planned out our writing! Of course we need to plan, but writing is a tremendously powerful thinking tool. This kind of exercise underlines that power.


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