Focused Free Writing


Teaching Strategies for a Learner-Centered Classroom

Strategy:                Focused Free Writing

Time:                       5-20 minutes

Intent: Can be used if students either have nothing to say or everyone wants to talk. Can also be used to summarize lecture and/or reading by having students summarize main points of lecture, what they have learned, what doesn’t make sense to them, the “muddiest point,” or what questions they have.


  • Instructor assigns a general topic to write about.
  • The assignment might be a reflection on something students just did, read, or learned.
  • The assignment might be anticipating or making predictions about an activity they are about to do.
  • See Writing Across the Curriculum Free Writing Page link below for sample questions/writing prompts.
  • Students write nonstop for a period of time (such as 15 minutes). Don’t worry about revision, punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc.
  • Students turn in writing at the end of the session.


  • Reflective writing activities, such as focused free writing, encourage students to be more conscious of the learning experiences they have had.
  • Students think more deeply and can organize their thoughts when putting them on paper.
  • Writing often helps students think more clearly about a given subject.


  • This activity may be used to focus students’ attention and encourage them to think about an issue before discussing or learning more about it in class. Students might also use this free writing to think about and express prior knowledge.
  • Give students time to report out on and discuss the thoughts they expressed in their writing. Use this free writing as a springboard to class discussion.

Additional Information:

The Baker College System