Quickwrite Handbook: 100 Mentor Texts

The Quickwrite Handbook: 100 Mentor Texts to Jumpstart Your Students’ Thinking and Writing
By Linda Rief
(Heinemann, 2018 – Learn more)

Reviewed by Anne Anderson

The Quickwrite Handbook: 100 Mentor Texts to Jumpstart Your Students’ Thinking and Writing by Linda Rief made me feel like I was having a private coaching session with this outstanding teacher/writer.

Rief shares 100 mentor pieces along with suggestions and ideas that provide a starting point for writing instruction. “The major objective of this book is to put a collection of writing that offers compelling models for quickwrites in the hands of teachers.” (p. 3) This excellent resource will support and sustain both veteran and new teachers.

Reif reminds us that the main purpose of doing the quickwrite “is to get words and ideas on paper.” (p.5) She goes on to share the instructional practices she developed around quickwrites in each of the book’s four sections:

  • Seeing Inward: How do students view themselves?
  • Leaning Outward: What do students consider when they step outside of themselves?
  • Beyond Self: What do students notice and wonder about in the world at large?
  • Looking Back: How does reflection help students grow into more articulate, thoughtful citizens of the world?

She reminds readers that our goals “should be loftier than raising reading scores or raising writing scores.” (p.18) If the goal is to get students to think, this book will move teachers and students in that direction.

The lesson routine is simple in that it is an invitation to write. The teacher shares the mentor text…the short mentor text…and then invites students to borrow a word, a phrase, or a line from the mentor text and write as quickly as possible for two to three minutes. The mentor pieces are ones that the author has used to jumpstart student thinking. These pieces are from her students, her own writing, other teachers, as well as from professionals (e.g., Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Ralph Fletcher, John Updike, S.E. Hinton, etc.).

I found the format of The Quickwrite Handbook to be extremely teacher-friendly.

A page contains a mentor text and Try This, a section including several teaching suggestions. Additionally, some quickwrites are developed into finished, polished pieces which Rief calls Interludes. Occasionally, Teacher Notes are included to provide background information or additional teaching suggestions.

Since the mentor texts do not need to be used in the order they appear in the book, familiarize yourself with the complete text. This allows you to select pieces that align to a specific text or topic.

This collection of mentor pieces is an excellent resource that will save teachers time. Use the mentor texts and suggestions that Linda Rief provides and devote your time and energy to extend those quickwrites into Interludes.

If you are tired of hearing “I don’t know what to write” from your students, then I know where to get help: Linda Rief’s The Quickwrite Handbook: 100 Mentor Texts to Jumpstart Your Students’ Thinking and Writing.

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Former eighth grade teacher Anne Anderson is an educational consultant known for her practical ideas and engaging ELA workshops. Anne’s goal is to help teachers help students. Her positive approach and sense of humor bring encouragement to her audiences. She loves showing teachers how to use whatever resources they have – or don’t have – to enhance learning. Anne seeks to provide educators with practical solutions to teaching and learning problems. Visit her website and subscribe to her bi-monthly newsletter, Spotlight on Success, there or by texting ANNEANDERSON to 22828.

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