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Stop Overthinking It! Use Bursts to Improve Student Writing Fluency

Participate and share

Participate and share : Poster

Sunday, November 29, 9:30–10:30 am PST (Pacific Standard Time)

Mark Schwartz  
Learn about writing "bursts" and their importance in the development of writing fluency. Learn how to use technology to measure and evaluate these bursts, and in turn how doing so creates stronger, more confident and more fluent writers.

Audience: Teachers, Principals/head teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Participant accounts, software and other materials: WriQ - available in the Chrome Store here:
Topic: Creativity & curation tools
Grade level: 6-12
Subject area: Language arts, ESL
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
  • Set professional learning goals to explore and apply pedagogical approaches made possible by technology and reflect on their effectiveness.
  • Stay current with research that supports improved student learning outcomes, including findings from the learning sciences.
Disclosure: The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session
Influencer Disclosure: This session includes a presenter that indicated a “material connection” to a brand that includes a personal, family or employment relationship, or a financial relationship. See individual speaker menu for disclosure information.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

The purpose of this session is to show teachers how burst length as a measurement of writing fluency is an important addition to their writing instruction toolbox and how technology makes it possible. They will learn how WriQ's Student Extension uses gamification (graphics, badges, etc) to increase burst length and in turn how that can increase writing fluency. Attendees will participate in writing exercises in the session, as well as create and modify their own lessons for use in the classroom. Structured writing prompts, designed for increasingly longer bursts will demonstrate how quickly these exercises can have an impact on student learning and writing fluency and how easily the technology can be incorporated into new and existing lesson plans. Special attention will be paid to how ELL teachers can effectively use writing bursts to increase confidence and fluency with that population. Success will be measured quantitatively by participants seeing results right in the session, and qualitatively by teachers being excited to bring the ideas and technology back to their classrooms.


Attendees will be presented with background on how the WriQ student extension was developed, the research behind it, and examples of student successes from using the software (10-15 mins). From there, attendees will be asked to install the WriQ student extension and to join a Google Classroom so "assignments" can be distributed, and results can be shared. Participants will be given a series of assignments, where WriQ will measure their bursts and other metrics. After each assignment is completed, I will facilitate a discussion around how it went, how participants felt (what they liked, what they didn't, etc.) and how they can imagine using similar assignments in their classes. Participants will be asked to roll play personas and how they may react to a "competitive" writing environment. Teachers will be asked to ensure that any "competitions" are done in a way that is welcoming for all levels of students.

There will be two such activities and facilitated discussions, with a maximum of 15 minutes each.

The final activity will ask attendees to work either alone or with a partner to design a writing prompt and burst activity specific to their subject and/or student population, and share it with other attendees through the Classroom. Comments are encouraged!

Supporting research

Rui A. Alves & Teresa Limpo (2015) Progress in Written Language Bursts, Pauses, Transcription, and Written Composition Across Schooling, Scientific Studies of Reading, 19:5, 374-391, DOI: 10.1080/10888438.2015.1059838

Alves, R. A., Branco, M., Castro, S. L., & Olive, T. (2011). Children of high transcription skill compose using bigger language bursts. In V. Berninger (Ed.), Cognitive psychology of writing handbook: Past, present, and future contributions of cognitive writing research to cognitive psychology (pp. 415-428). East Sussex, UK:
Psychology Press

Chenoweth, N. A., & Hayes, J. R. (2001). Fluency in writing - generating text in L1 and L2. Written Communication, 18(1), 80–98. 0741088301018001004.

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Mark Schwartz, Texthelp

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