Learning to write and writing to learn

Writing is a vital skill for school, life, and personal development. Gert Rijlaarsdam, Martine Braaksma, Tanja Janssen, Talita Groenendijk, and Anne Toorenaar have used the evidence from writing process studies to design and test writing interventions

NO PUPIL CAN BE SUCCESSFUL AT SCHOOL without writing. As they learn to write they learn to express their feelings and thoughts, and share them with others. They also learn how to persuade readers of their viewpoint, and how to move others through a story. In addition, pupils discover how to use writing as a learning tool, a way to grasp complex subject matter. Across various subjects pupils write essays, summaries, and syntheses of sources. In short, writing is omnipresent. Although there is no specific examination, it is a skill that much depends on, in school and indeed in later life.

What we know
● Young writers vary in the way they use writing strategies.
● Young writers vary in the way they adapt their strategies to new tasks.
● Pupils can learn to write texts and apply strategies when observing and evaluating other pupils’ writing processes (videos).
● Pupils can learn to write from observing (on video) readers who try to understand or who evaluate texts.

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February 2011