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Math Quick Writes

  • by Kelly Harmon & Randi Anderson
  • Sept. 10, 2018, 9:58 a.m.

Writing in mathematics is a critical component for developing deep conceptual understanding. Math quick writes are a great way to get students thinking and explaining math concepts and relationships. A quick write is an opportunity for students to think about a specific topic or respond to a math-related question. The goal is to activate prior knowledge, make connections, and explore ideas. Any question or task that requires comprehension or analysis can be turned into a quick write.


Tell students to write "as much as you can, as fast as you can, as good as you can".


Quick writes range from one to five minutes. For primary grades, these can be turned into quick sketch, also called "driting," drawing and writing.


Quick Write Stems

Here are some quick write stems to kick off or end your math block.


  • What do you know about (concept)?
  • How do you feel about math? Why?
  • Explain what "10" means. Why is "10" an important number?
  • Which strategy do you think is the best one to use when solving a problem like this?
  • When have you solved a problem this week and how?
  • How will you use (strategy) in the future?


Quick Writes Using Pictures

Show students a picture and have them do a quick write on what they see, or challenge students to write their own word problem using the picture. See a few example pictures below.





Word Problems

Present students with a word problem. Before asking students to solve the problem, have them do a quick write (or draw) about what is happening in the problem. Scaffold students using the strategy who, what, when, and why? They could also make a list of what is known and what is unknown.



Be sure to revisit the quick writes to revise as students develop new schema or identify prior misconceptions. These make great formative assessment checks for both the teacher and the learners.


For more math ideas, join us for our virtual seminar Number Talks & Strategies to Get Students Listening, Speaking, & Writing in Math this October!



Kelly Harmon and Randi Anderson

About The Authors

Kelly Harmon & Associates began in 2001 with a mission of instructional coaching and providing rich literacy resources for educators and parents. Our work incorporates research-based best practices for teaching and learning.

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