When I had my students write impromptu themes, I realized that some
students were writing them better than outside class themes which meant
that they might be spending more time in class than outside of class in
their writing. Others, however, were writing not as well. I thought that
I might give guidelines to my students so that they could write their
impromptu papers as well as possible. These are the guidelines I gave them
to follow when they were sitting in class, reading their topics for the
first time and preparing to write.
Explanation- When we are alarmed, startled, etc., our first physical
reaction is to stop breathing with a contraction of our chests. In that
situation, when we aren't breathing, we're not thinking. Then, depending
on the stress, we go into shock. A very tense student seeing the topics
for the first time, may waste time going into and recovering from the shock
of 'oh no, what do I write on?' When they see the topics, the first
thing that they should do, is breathe.
2. Think for 2-5 minutes:
Explanation- Time in stressful situations is very subjective. Students
see other students writing and they feel more stressed thinking that they
don't know what to write about. Sometimes only 30-45 seconds has passed,
but they don't realize this. Knowing that they have 2-5 minutes to think
relieves a lot of this stress. Also 2-5 minutes is a lot of time to
prepare when done calmly.
3. Organize your topics:
Explanation- I have my high school seniors write their topics in
divisions of three sub-topics. [Why three topics is not the subject here.]
So next they choose their three sub-topics making sure to avoid 'topic
blur' and begin writing. *Regardless of the manner in which the teacher
wants the students to organize their themes, a deliberate organization
helps the student write better impromptus.
Explanation- Tell students to save time to proofread at the
end of the period and to make sure that the papers are stapled in the
correct order. It is sometimes very difficult to tell what the order of
the pages should be otherwise. I allow my students to use dictionaries and
electronic spellers if they wish.
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