Can Daily Writing Make Learning Deeper and More Sticky?

Could daily writing be a universal tool for teaching and not simply the domain of English Language Arts and literacy?

The message is all around us: Guiding students to write every day in class not only improves their writing skills (typically thought of as the responsibility of ELA teachers), it can deepen their thinking and ultimately their understanding of content in other subject areas, including history, math, and science.

How do we set the stage? How do we grade daily writing (or do we)? Where does it fit in our lesson plans? Here are three helpful articles on the topic, all written by teacher leaders (including a Florence City, Alabama math teacher).

Daily Writing Without the Dread
Megan Mills (8th Grade)

“Different writing assignments demand different assessments and feedback…. We may want students to think on paper, which can give them a chance to slow down their thoughts, examine them, and uncover ideas or conclusions that they might not have reached without the act of writing…. If students only write major essays or reports, they will never learn to play with language, explore creative ideas, or grapple with a difficult concept for fear of making a mistake and earning a poor grade.”

Make Writing a Daily Ritual in Every Subject
Mary Tedrow (Shenandoah Writing Project)

“Students should be writing frequently in all content, primarily so they can write their way to an understanding of curricula. Writing is a way of knowing. It is how you discover what you know and is an important tool for reflecting on and then owning learning. In the study of content, these writings should be constructed responses (students putting their own ideas on the page) rather than notetaking, which is often an exercise in copying teacher-formulated thinking or summaries from a reading.”

Should We Do More Writing in Math Class?
Michelle Russell (Florence City HS)

“This year I decided to have my students keep a math journal in an effort to incorporate more writing. The journal idea is to provide students more opportunities to work word problems and invite them to explain their thinking. By explaining their thinking and justifying their answers (using words of their own), my hope is that they’ll improve their understanding and comprehension.”

Other resources:

Build Knowledge, Then Write About What You Know (ASCD Express)

Praising the Process – What It Means to Be a Young Writer (Teaching Channel)

4 Tools to Inspire Perserverance in Student Writers (MindShift)

My Journey with Kelly Gallagher’s Article of the Week Assignment (Dave Stuart Jr.)