Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Writing to Learn

Question: What are the implications of writing to learn for content area teachers, as in social studies?

Answer/Quote: “The emphasis of writing to learn is on learning content, not the writing skills themselves…. Teachers need not dwell on the technical or mechanical problems of writing; if they do not interfere with clarity of meaning, ignore them. Students’ writing skills are likely to improve with this added practice.” P. 216.

“The Guided Writing Procedure (GWP) described by Smith and Bean…is one simple method for integrating writing into learning social studies and other content areas. This 2 step paragraph writing activity facilitates the ‘synthesis and retention of content area material.’ During the first step, initiated as a pre-reading exercise, students discuss what they already know…about a unit topic, then write 2 paragraphs using information from class brainstorming. In the second step, students revise their drafts after having read the assigned passages, then discuss both good and poor examples of the revised versions.” 216-217,

Comment: I think this rationale for NOT correcting every error is a good one. The emphasis is on learning the content, not on the mechanics of writing. If content teachers are bothered by not correcting every mistake, simply keep in mind the most prominent mistakes and do mini-lessons on them. RayS.

Title: “Writing to Learn in the Social Studies.” HT Holbrook. Reading Teacher (November 1987), 216-218.

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