Some Ideas about Teaching



Mr Clare's 'Ten-Minute Write'


Have I told you about 'Mr Clare's Ten Minute write'?

If I have, it's Alzheimer's and I apologise.

This year I took 9Z (the name has been changed to protect the innocent) because they had caused havoc last year as 8Z and because they have a more-then-proportional number of children with behavioural issues. I had asked all HoDs to make sure that they allocated a teacher who could cope, and I took them myself.

1. Arrive and (usually) a silly starter to let them blow off steam.
2. Read the textbook round.
3. I read the textbook to them.
4. Brief Q&A to rehearse what we have learned.
5. Some form of learning ACTIVITY (kinaesthetic).
'Mr Clare's ten-minute write'
7. Plenary activity (usually a quiz).

Here is a typical unruly class. Concentration span of an ADHD flea. Always missing equipment. Whenever they are set work, a sea of hands goes up. Pupils shouting out: 'I can't do this' and 'This is boring'. Then finished in 30 seconds and demanding something else to do shabbily.

It was for this that 'Mr Clare's ten-minute write' was devised.

When it came time in the lesson for the writing activity, I offered three alternatives (as I have explained elsewhere on this forum). The first one is always drop-down easy (e.g. copy a chunk). The second is basic (cloze or questions). The third is more adventurous, and demands understanding and effort (e.g a piece of imaginative writing).

The first time I did this, of course, I explained the rules to them of 'Mr Clare's ten-minute write'.
1. YOU choose what you are going to do. Complaining is stupid because you are complaining about what you have chosen.
2. You have two minutes to get yourself ready and started.
3. You must work in absolute silence, on your own work, without disturbing anyone else.
4. Don't ask me or anyone else for help. Sort out any problem you encounter yourself. This is YOUR ten-minute write; choose something you will be able to do without needing help.
5. You must take ten minutes working - no early finishing allowed, but you must be finished on time also. Pace yourself appropriately - this is YOUR responsibility not mine.
6. If there is perfect compliance, then we will play a fun game after. If there is a disturbance of any sort, I will add time on to the end: I WILL HAVE MY FULL TEN MINUTES' WRITE!

It is a lovely time of complete silence in the middle of the lesson. Lots of praise and lollies, of course, while they are complying. Regular exhortations to last through to the end. Chuntering on ad nauseam about self-motivation/ concentration skills etc.
I know that many pupils like it. It is an oasis of calm in what, for them, is often a very chaotic day.
(Note that I enthuse about the work of those copying just as much as I do about the work of those trying the harder stuff. I NEVER tell a pupil that I wish they had tried something different; I gave them the choice, and I have to respect that.)

I must confess I announce the exercise with a degree of eclat: 'And now, we've reached that moment - it's time for ... the ten-minute write!' Usually followed by an encouragement to make it especially good this time.

We do the ten-minute write easily now - I almost wish I'd made it 15 minutes, but I feel obliged to stick to my original promise. At first, many pupils simply copied (safer, I suppose), but more and more pupils are now 'having a go' at the harder stuff.

The other lesson, we were doing a particularly interesting lesson, and I had told them that they would be able to do an imaginative piece of writing about this later in the lesson. Everyone was being enthusiastic about what we were doing (of course - mandatory in my lessons, I'm afraid), and when we came to the written work I announced, as always: 'And now it's time for Mr Clare's ten-minute write!'

The pupils cheered.

'I've cracked this', I thought!

Posted on: Apr 17 2005, 05:30 PM





To cite this page, use:   CLARE, JOHN D. (2005/2006), 'Mr Clare's Ten-Minute Write',  at Greenfield History Site (