No Series: Writing to Learn

Writing to Learn

Lesson Objective: Process information through writing
All Grades / All Subjects / Understanding


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Discussion and Supporting Materials

Thought starters

  1. How does this strategy encourage deep understanding?
  2. Why is it important that students participate in low-stakes writing?
  3. How can you use this strategy in your classroom?


  • Private message to Katie Webber

I agree that spelling is one of the main ways to learn.

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  • Private message to Laurie Cooper

Writing to learn has so many benefits, from helping students process, to improving their writing confidence and competence, to even helping teachers stop feeling as if they have to grade every piece of writing a student does. As an added benefit, you have formative information on those pages, especially for students who don't like to speak up. 

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  • Private message to Raven Groom
This method is a great way to have students organize their thoughts. I believe that often know the information but just don't know how to say it or do the activity. This tool could help a lot with that.
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  • Private message to Keidi Boatfield
I love how this is simple strategy can be implemented cross-categorical. It's simple, to the point and provides an opportunity for students to explore their own thinking and build problem solving skills.
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  • Private message to Andrea Hale
Great way to join SEL and writing. This is a great way to get the students to write and feel safe. The students know that their ideas are being listened to and their writing is not being penalized. I use the writing process in my class. My students know that the first time they write is not going to be their best work. They are going to concentrate on the meaning and organization of ideas. Later, they can revise and edit. One way that I have incorporated this strategy in my classes is that I have students give feedback to the meaning of the paper first. I also have had students pair up with a peer to read their own paper to a listener (the peer). The peer only gets hear what their partner is saying (they do not get to see their paper) Then they ask questions about what they are curious, or what was confusing. This feedback helps the student to add to their paper or tweak some ideas before they share their paper.
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  • Writing to Learn Transcript

    +++ 00:00:06 +++
    Strategies: Writing to Learn
    Andrea Culver: Write down who do you think the

    Writing to Learn Transcript

    +++ 00:00:06 +++
    Strategies: Writing to Learn
    Andrea Culver: Write down who do you think the target audience of this kind of music is? What age group do you think listens to this when it’s popular? Do you think it’s for adults? Do you think it’s for teenagers?
    Lower Third:
    Andrea Culver
    9th Grade Pre-AP English 1
    Sheldon Early College High School, Houston, Texas
    Andrea Culver: Writing to learn it’s essentially low stakes writing. So what you do is your students have paper and you ask a question and it’s usually pretty short. And they write, the respond to it.
    Andrea Culver: I want you to write about what we saw, what stuck with you, what do you think is important? What do you not care for?

    +++ 00:00:37 +++
    Andrea Culver: It’s just a way for them to process the information that you’re giving them and it’s a very low stakes environment. I don’t take a grade on writing to learn, the kids to know that. And they know that if they turn it, the only other person that’s going to see it is me. It gets them accustomed to putting their thoughts on paper in a way that isn’t scary. They don’t have to worry about what the rest of the class thinks. They don’t have to worry about what kind of grade they’re going to get.
    Andrea Culver: I’ll give you about 45 seconds, why do you think the Blues is called the Blues? How did it get its name? What do you think? If you don’t know, that’s okay, take a guess.

    +++ 00:01:05 +++
    Andrea Culver: In my classroom, sometimes we call them writing to think. And we’ve talked about the connotation that’s there with learn and with think. So when we write to learn it’s because you’re going to be writing something that I’m teaching you. When we write to think that’s when you’re organizing your own thoughts.
    Andrea Culver: What the students really get out of these kinds of activities is they’re able to process the information in a way that’s going to make them retain it.
    Andrea Culver: So tell me what stuck with you and I want to know what kind of music sounds like the most what you listen to today.

    +++ 00:01:37 +++
    Andrea Culver: By doing something like writing to learn where they’re addressing these things in a low stakes environment that gives them the opportunity to sort of learn for themselves or think it out for themselves.


Andrea Culver


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