Encouraging students to “write to learn,” discovering what they think, what they know, and what they have yet to master.

by Julie Lima Boyle

Grades 9-12


I believe that writing is a tool to process learning, engage new text, and deepen a student’s responses before beginning discussion.

It’s different from learning how to write. This is about doing preliminary work to develop stronger ideas that may turn into essays or longer forms of writing.

“Write to learn” strategies enable me to gather a lot of informal evidence of how students are performing against learning targets and goals. It allows me to make instructional adjustments for individual students, groups of students or possibly the whole class.

There are many examples of write to learn strategies. I may ask students to:

-Produce an exit slip where they write down three things they’ve learned and two questions they still may have;

-Read a piece of text and write a Twitter post from a character’s perspective; and

-Identify a muddy point within a text and have that cleared up right away rather than waiting until they take a quiz or test.

Write to learn strategies allow students to get daily feedback from me and from other students and affords me the opportunity to constantly respond to student’s learning needs.

About Julie Lima Boyle

Julie Lima Boyle has been a secondary English teacher at Coventry High School in Coventry, Rhode Island for seventeen years. She is the ELA Curricu...

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