PSJA Early College Express

May 2016

This month: Writing to Learn

Writing to Learn

Through Writing to Learn, students can develop their ideas, their critical thinking abilities, and their writing skills. Writing to Learn enables students to experiment every day with written language and to increase their fluency and mastery of written conventions. By taking time to write in low-stakes exercises, students actively engage in thinking about a concept. Writing to Learn increases equity within the classroom since students have time to try out their ideas in non-evaluative activities before they have to present them to a group or as individuals. Writing to Learn can also be used as formative assessment and as a way to scaffold mid- and high-stakes writing assignments and tests.

The Student Effectiveness Rubric: "Demonstrating" Writing to Learn


… know and expect that Writing to Learn will help them to clarify their learning and articulate new and complex information.

... internalize Writing to Learn strategies to scaffold their own learning.

... do Writing to Learn on their own by keeping journals and writing to help them understand what they know and what they need to know.

... expect to write regularly and begin writing with minimal prompting from the teacher. They write clear and appropriate responses and questions to the topic or prompt. They can articulate the connection between what they are writing and what they are learning or what they need to learn.

... understand that Writing to Learn is an important part of their learning process and they draw upon it as needed. They use writing to reflect, analyze, and clarify their thinking.

... consistently use their low-stakes writing to scaffold to higher-stakes writing assignments.

... are comfortable tackling higher-stakes assignments and show progress toward more sophisticated writing.

... share their writing and use it to scaffold to Classroom Talk, Collaborative Group Work, and higher-stakes assignments.

... use writing for self-discovery and assessment.

... see how different Writing to Learn pieces can be used together to help them structure longer pieces of writing.

... use skills developed in Writing to Learn activities when engaging in mid- and high-s takes assignments.

... show measurable improvement in their high-stakes writing assignments, and there is evidence of using Writing to Learn to improve their writing for assessment.

... immediately begin writing with minimal prompting from the teacher and are focused on their writing until told to stop.

... develop stamina in their writing; they recognize that thinking about complex ideas requires extensive writing.

... expect to and consistently volunteer to share their writing.

... are eager to participate in discussions, peer review activities, and other higher-stakes written work based on their writing.

Watch this video on Writing to Learn produced by the Teaching Channel and Educate Texas

Article from East Carolina University

Click the link below to read this piece by East Carolina University describing 34 Writing to Learn activities.
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May Webinar: Writing to Learn

This month, we explore the power of low-stakes writing in supporting students' understanding and acquisition of knowledge. You'll find there are many Writing to Learn activities. Perhaps, you'll find one or two that resonate with you. Please watch this webinar with your CLC prior to your school's face-to-face professional development session (see schedule below). Please click on image below to view the webinar.

Webinar feedback

Please click on the image below after you've watched the webinar to give us your feedback.

PSJA May Professional Development Schedule

PSJA ECHS: Monday, May 16, during CLCs

Alamo MS: Tuesday, May 17, during CLCs

Austin MS: Wednesday, May 18, during CLCs

Murphy MS: Thursday, May 19, during Team Share

Memorial HS: Monday, May 23, during CLCs

Yzaguirre MS: Tuesday, May 24, during Team Time

Scott Hollinger

PSJA Professional Development Specialist