Tag Archive | writing to learn

Written Conversation

A written conversation is a note writing tool for engaging and discussing ideas.Students can all “talk” at once and it’s still quiet in the room. Unlike out loud discussions that vanish into thin air – letters leave artefacts that can be used or assessed later.Live – here and now conversations are when students pass notes in class
The take away version is when the reader has to wait and retrieve the note from a mailbox or email etc to read it. The teacher may like to join in the conversation as well. Students might typically have a regular dialogue journal buddy and write to each other once a week.The text is the key to success of the activity. You need something short, complex and central to the subject field.

An example of a written conversation

Writing Break


“Writing breaks are a reminder to me to just shut up every once in a while and let the kids think.” While we often feel pressured to talk till the bell – to pack as much content as we can into a class period – we also know that kids don’t remember as much when they are overwhelmed. as we said in chapter 1, less content can be more, if more is actually retained.” p 31 Content Area Writing – Harvey Daniels, Steven Zemelman, Nancy Steineke

A writing break is a break, at specific points during the class, where students stop and reflect in writing on the class / information so far. Some quick, turn and talk sharing usually follows the writing, then the class resumes.


These figures will amaze you (well they amazed me). Kids recall between 10 and 30 % of what they read, hear and see.By incorporating writing breaks at regular intervals, about every 10 – 20 minutes, you can really kick the retention up a notch because writing and then talking about it, moves the sticking rate into the 70 – 90 % range.

Writing to Learn – what is it?

“To get true learning power, kids must put ideas into their own words.”

p 26 Content Area Writing – Harvey Daniels, Steven Zemelman, Nancy Steineke

Writing to learn is different to high stakes, public writing. Writing To Learns are:
Short;spontaneous;exploratory;informal;personal;one draft;unedited; and ungraded.

This semester, in my role as literacy coach, I am introducing some of the Writing to Learn strategies which are explained in the above book, Content Area Writing.