Timed Write Hypermiling: Copy/Change/Continue

After necessary school-wide policy changes regarding attendance, I was in need of a new “do now” that didn’t feel like one, because I hate that stuff. It turns out a few of my practices work already, though, like Sustained Silent Reading (SSR), Summary & Write, and Free Voluntary Reading (FVR). With 4 classes per week, and a new Semester 2 weekly routine to begin Copy/Change/Continue is born…

I’ve been keeping up reaaaaally well with providing students comprehensible texts. Instead of always printing an entire class’ timed writes for students to have all at once, though, we could hypermile that activity, maximizing what we get. Copy/Change/Continue requires just one student-created text at a time (good for teachers still drowning from prep-heavy practices). Just project one student-written text, and for 10 minutes, students a) copy the story into their notebooks, have the option to b) change details, then c) continue the story by writing until the timer goes off. That’s it! This can be followed by a quick share and discussion for more input.

*BONUS* Discuss one student’s changes/continued story at length, end class with Write & Discuss, and students now have 2 new texts to read that night!

Copy/Change/Continue accomplishes several things. First and foremost, students get a manageable amount of text to read, immediately. Next, students must understand and process the input in order to read, change any details, and continue the story. There’s also personalization since students can abandon the narrative entirely, taking the story in a different direction that they find compelling. Lastly, this activity is also 10 minutes of clear, focused work at the start of class when kids are coming in late, etc.

So, Copy/Change/Continue is good for when you have a batch of timed writes. In fact, just 5 minutes of one class and some prep time typing/editing the stories could occupy 15-20 minutes every class given the activity and follow up discussion. For example, if you have 25 students, you could start every class with Copy/Change/Continue for over a month—you wouldn’t have to plan anything else for the start of class. All this using timed writes that took just 5 minutes from class one day! My recommendation, though? Do this once or twice a week, curating the clearest stories for students to copy and add to.

7 thoughts on “Timed Write Hypermiling: Copy/Change/Continue

  1. I do this in story rotations.
    Students sit in small groups and write for 3 min then pass their story to the person on their left. The next person adds to the story of the previous person. We pass stories around the circle and then the group chooses the beat story to read to the class.
    Super fun!

    • That does sound fun, and I’ve done musical chairs but with writing as they move. However, there’s less control over input, right? Lots of opportunities for students to write stuff that doesn’t make sense to their peers. With Copy/Change/Continue, the first written product they see has been edited/curated by the teacher, so input quality is higher.

  2. Lance, this is genius. Another great idea. Thanks a ton for sharing. As Carol Gaab said (and many others) variety is necessary in good CI. And this is another great activity to add to the toolbox. Thanks!

  3. Thank you for sharing this idea!

    How long are your timed writes? I have students writing over 100 words so the “copy” part would take all day! I’m still interested in how I can use this for reading input and interaction (changing the details).

    Maybe I should just give students shorter timed writes sometimes so we have shorter texts to work with!

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