It must be noted, first, that a TW is not a form of Comprehensible Input. It is actually a form of production and should not be required of students until it is clear that they are capable of producing and with material with which they are thoroughly familiar. Timed writes are best done as an ongoing collection in a portfolio style work. Students in each class should have a folder with their names on it and into which they put each timed write. A timed write works like this.
- students are given a half sheet of paper,and they take out a pencil
- the teacher asks them to put the date and the title of the story about which they will be writing at the top. This is very important in portfolio work.
- When the teacher says begin, students write as much as they can about the identified story in Latin. If they reach a point where they have said all that they can about the story, and time remains, they begin to make things up to go along with the story. In other words, they write until time is called. Time is called by saying (as some timer goes off) “If you are in the middle of a sentence, you may finish the sentence. Then, count all of your words. Write the number large at the bottom of the page, and circle it. Place your TW in your portfolio.
- How long should a timed write be? With beginners who are ready to do some production, start with 5 minutes. When they complain that this is not enough time, increase to 10, then to 15. Ultimately 20 minutes is a good time for timed writes. Advanced students may be given 30 minutes or longer to write about something they’ve ready or on a topic that has been discussed.
- In any timed write, the ONLY question is how many words, in Latin, did you write. This is not an analysis of grammar or spelling. It’s an opportunity for students to produce in the language they are learning.
- At the end of the semester, students may be invited to do some meta-analysis of their portfolio. See a suggested way of doing this on the next page.