10 March 2024

Do Now Writing Prompts for English: Free Writing or Exam Style

Presented here is a collection of 40 engaging "Do Now" activities tailored for GCSE English. However, they can be used for any English specification. I designed them to try and combat something very specific. I refer to it as "exam paralysis" – a phenomenon where students find themselves frozen during exams, struggling to write spontaneously within time constraints. This not only squanders precious exam time but also hinders their performance potential in terms of final grades.

To address this issue, I developed a series of prompts and activities aimed at fostering free writing. This approach boosts confidence, encourages honesty in expression, nurtures writing skills and voice, emphasizes the writing process over the final outcome, and aids in overcoming writer's block. These activities are not intended for grading; rather, they serve to empower students to write creatively and authentically. Oh and quickly too, if they stick with it!

Recognizing that this approach may not suit every teacher's preferences, I have also adapted the prompts into exam-style exercises. Here, content, organization, and technical accuracy are assessed. The "free writing" set prioritizes rapid writing development and confidence building, and I will actively engage with students during the process, offering comments and encouragement. The "exam style" set, on the other hand, entails more formal feedback or a focus on achieving specific objectives.

Both sets are customizable to accommodate the needs of your learners. Utilizing a "Do Now" activity can be particularly effective for jumpstarting learning, especially at the outset of a class session or week. It serves as a means to assess prior knowledge and provide instant feedback to students.