Strategies to Engage Students in Writing to Think

brief writing exercises
We often think of writing as a reflection of finished thinking, whether it be via a term paper, final exam, or other culminating project. However, writing is also a powerful tool for thinking, to help students construct meaning and to deepen their understandings of complex content (Bomer, 2011). Writing to think is grounded in the understanding that people need to use language to mediate and extend their thinking (Vygotsky, 1981; Bomer, 2011). That is, as we are learning new content, we need language to help us figure out what we know, believe, and understand. Have you ever participated in a discussion and realized mid-sentence that you are changing your mind? Does your thinking become clearer and more focused the more you talk? For many, talking helps us develop and clarify our thinking. Writing functions in the same way, as language mediates our initial response and opens space for us to develop and refine our thinking.

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