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I need my brain to slow down. It's on auto-pilot during the day. Teaching, meeting, making decisions, conferencing, listening. All of these things are happening in my classroom. When I sit down to write, to read, to grade, I can't. The neurons in my brain continue to zoom around there like a hummingbird and I can't concentrate. I can't focus. This is a problem.
Today during my final block of the day, we wrote brain dumps. A brain dump is a free write, but brain dump is more fun to say. This is where you keep your hand moving for the entire writing time...seven minutes today...and you write continuously. Brain dumps get the stuff out of your head that's blocking the really good stuff. It gives you, the writer, a place to put all of the worries and concerns you have. This way you are able to write all of those interesting and creative ideas that are hiding in the back of your mind. No judgement during the brain dump. If you think it, you write it. No worrying about correctness. Write. Write. Write. Release your stream of consciousness.
Once we discussed the ins and outs of a brain dump, I set the timer for seven minutes, sat at an empty student desk to join them, and we were off. I wrote and wrote and wrote and so did the sixth graders.
After the timer sang our end, we discussed our feelings and thoughts about this process. Students answered thoughtfully about this experience.
"I started full. Emptied out. And now I'm full again."
"When I started, I felt bad. Now I feel good."
"I had no idea this is how I was feeling before I started writing."
While I needed the writing time, it seemed the students did too. I'm impressed at their reflective statements. This short time of writing didn't change the world, but it changed us. More brain dumps coming soon. You should try it!