I was at a conference in New Brunswick yesterday and today. Today, one of the presenters was trying to sell us on the idea of 5-Minute Writes, an activity that requires students to write, non-stop, on a given topic for five minutes a day.
We tried the activity several times over two days. I was a skeptic and didn’t produce anything worthwhile the first three times, but I liked what a wrote today and received a few kind words from other participants after I read it aloud. It’s certainly not fantastic writing, but it’s a decent first draft. The presenter’s point was that, with practice, students can associate timed writing with good writing. I’d never considered that before, and I certainly wasn’t a believer until I felt successful.
I think I’ll try this with my kids in our next unit.
Here it is, along with the prompt.
Here are five negative phrases associated with skiing: broken limbs, tree-fusion, long drives, expensive, frostbite. Write something in five minutes that uses all of these ideas while defending the merits of skiing.
My response (I’ll leave it exactly as I wrote it – errors, dangling modifiers, and all – in five minutes):
She works twelve hour shifts at the hospital, sometimes seven days a week. At the end of a shift, her feet throb and her head feels like it’s full of rocks.
But it’s worth it.
It’s worth it because sometimes, some glorious weeks in January or March, she gets a stretch of three days off. The night before, she deposits the stack of paychecks she’s been hoarding in her underwear drawer and spends far too much of it to fill up the tank of her Subaru. She wakes up with the sun and drives to the mountain, arriving at the gate while the ticket-takers are still bleary-eyed, and is always the first one on the ski lift.
Yes, by the time she reaches the top of that mountain, her nose is frostbitten, and there’s the nagging thought at the back of her head – what if I break a limb this time? What if I hit a tree? But perhaps that’s part of the appeal.
Because after hours and hours working in the windowless offices of the hospital, facing the prospect of injury or death is exactly what makes her feel free.