At one of my presentations this weekend, I was asked to post the rubric I use to grade timed writes. I have posted it along with the timed write handout that I give to my students. Basically for this activity, students write sentences with one word per line. They have 10 minutes to write as long of a story as they can. The rules I give them are that they cannot give a character more than two names (first and last) and they cannot repeat the same word twice in a row (eg. very very very very happy). Their sentences have to make sense, but spelling doesn’t count as long as I can figure out what they are trying to say. They are not allowed to ask how to say words or look them up in a dictionary because I want to know what they have acquired. Their options for the story are to rewrite a story we have told/read in class, write a similar story with different details, or write an original story. The most important thing I tell them every time we do this activity is to focus on using language that they already know. Sometimes students get stuck because they get a great idea for a story but aren’t able to write it with the limited amount of Spanish that they know. I tell them to repeat the structures we have learned in class as many times as they can and to add another character when they get stuck for ideas. I also encourage them to use cognates that they know as well as proper nouns, especially for places (eg. Walmart, Starbucks).
My favourite part of this activity is that it allows me to see where my students are at in acquiring the structures. It is very easy to tell when reading their timed writes which students have acquired the structures and which students still need more input. The first time I do a timed write, I have students write down a target for themselves. This number is the number of words they think they can write in Spanish in the 10 minutes. After the first timed write, they continue to set their own target but it must be at least equal to the number of words they wrote the previous time.
I love to have students do this right at the beginning of the semester and again at the end so they can see how far they have progressed in the language. Click here to see a French sample from a student who was halfway through the year of grade 10 French at the time.