Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Writing To Learn


"It’s more difficult to convince teachers that writing is a learning process than it is to convince them that talk is, because so often teachers use writing as a way of testing. They use it to find out what students already know, rather than as a way of encouraging them to find out. The process of making the material their own -- the process of writing -- is demonstrably a process of learning."

The WAC Clearing House website at Colorado State University posts the following explanation of Writing to Learn (WTL).

Generally, writing-to-learn activities are short, impromptu or otherwise informal writing tasks that help students think through key concepts or ideas presented in a course. Often, these writing tasks are limited to less than five minutes of class time or are assigned as brief, out-of-class assignments.

Because writing-to-learn activities are crucial to many WAC programs (because they best meet teaching goals through writing), this guide presents a great deal of information on writing to learn (WTL), including a detailed rationale, examples, and logistical tips.

Toby Fulwiler and Art Young explain WTL in their book, Language Connections: Writing and Reading Across the Curriculum:

Writing to communicate -- or what James Britton calls "transactional writing"-- means writing to accomplish something, to inform, instruct, or persuade. . . . Writing to learn is different. We write to ourselves as well as talk with others to objectify our perceptions of reality; the primary function of this "expressive" language is not to communicate, but to order and represent experience to our own understanding. In this sense language provides us with a unique way of knowing and becomes a tool for discovering, for shaping meaning, and for reaching understanding.

In Writing to Learn Means Learning to Think, Syrene Forsman advises:

As teachers we can choose between (a) sentencing students to thoughtless mechanical operations and (b) facilitating their ability to think. If students' readiness for more involved thought processes is bypassed in favor of jamming more facts and figures into their heads, they will stagnate at the lower levels of thinking. But if students are encouraged to try a variety of thought processes in classes, they can, regardless of their ages, develop considerable mental power. Writing is one of the most effective ways to develop thinking. 

Writing Across the Curriculum


Post a Comment