Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Slow Down!

Thank you to Stacey, Betsy, Dana, Tara, Beth, & Anna for this amazing platform to write and share writing! What a wonderful community you've created! I'm honored to be part of it. Join us at Two Writing Teachers

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 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!


  1. This is exactly what I need! I have so much trouble switching off and JB can see the wheels turning in my mind and says "One thought at a time." That's so hard for me. I will be brain dumping in the morning for sure. I liked how you included the comments from your class after the session too. Thanks for a great idea.

  2. I do that every day .... it's called my blog.
    My kids love freewriting, and I have to remember to build that in more than I do, when I am so caught up in the focus of "this is the lesson for the day" not "this is a time to write what you want to write."
    Feeling empty now ... thanks

  3. I love the idea of brain dumping. I need to do more of that myself although I have actually written three days in a row on my blog. It has been awhile since I have done that. With Christmas break coming quickly and the kids' attention span dwindling, I might have to try this.

  4. This is a great idea!! I love Kevin's comment. ;-) I've been feeling distracted a lot, too, and it does make it difficult to get tasks done (especially grading). I need to do this!!

  5. I love a good Brain Dump, and have been considering doing one myself! It's been awhile. It helped me this semester in grad school, and at various other times. Writing daily certainly helps, but then I find I sometimes develop more ideas I want to explore. Yikes! Must Brain Dump Soon! :)

  6. We've been doing some specific writing, but maybe this is just what we all need, too, Michelle, especially at this very busy time. Fun to hear your students' reactions!

  7. I think we all need to brain dump from time to time. Our minds are so filled with everyday things that it feels like it is going to explode. Sometimes emptying out heads gives us a chance to focus.

  8. I love brain dumps. Something unexpected always comes out for me, and I love that. I love the statement: "I started full. Emptied out. And now I'm full again." So great!

  9. What a great idea! Our kids just need time to do this....I'm stealing this one, Michelle.

  10. Love brain dumping -- I agree with Kevin - blogging is a place for me to do this. I also journal and just get ideas down as I think of them. I need a place for them to go. It is a great idea to do this with students. I look forward to sharing this with teachers.

  11. So much power in just getting words on paper. These may result in seed ideas for future stories or as your students said - just giving them room to feel and/or empty their brains! I think this would be fun for students and adults!

    Thanks, Michelle!

  12. Getting the words out to release the bad and let in the good. Love that idea. Free up some space, clean up. We free write but the words brain dump are so fun to say and it seems while similar, this process is re purposed. Sounds like something to try.

  13. "Brain dump" is much more fun to say than "free write." You're right about that!

    I took a break from meditating for a few months and just started back to it again. I have to tell you, I love the way it gives me more pause and space to think. You might want to try it. Here's the link to the app I use:


Please share your thoughts. I love comments!