Writing to Learn: Deepening Understanding and Improving Retention of Content | college and career ready | Scoop.it

Robert Marzano

Educational Leadership

Februrary 2012


"Writing to learn focuses on deepening understanding and improving retention of content."


Writing Across the Curriculum


The concept of writing across the curriculum is commonly credited to James Britton (1970, 1972).

Writing should be integral to instruction in all subject areas. Writing is fundamentally a constructive process of encoding new information. The act of translating experience into a personalized account aids and extends learning. Writing to learn focuses on deepening understanding and improving retention of content. 

The writing activities, typically:

are short informal resemble an advanced form of note taking.

Five Phases for Understanding

Phase 1: Record - Here, students record their understanding of the content.  Phase 2: Compare  - In this phase, students share what they've recorded with a partner, noting what's similar and different between their two recordings.  Phase 3: Revise - This phase occurs right after the comparison phase, although a teacher might assign it as homework instead.  Phase 4: Combine - Here, students combine the products of the R–C–R cycles they've completed and then generate and defend one or more generalizations. Students must support their generalizations using specific evidence.  Phase 5: Review - This last phase always occurs before an assessment, although a teacher could request it at any time. 


Defined Instructional Practices Build Collective Capacity

The Common Core State Standards make school wide literacy a must do. School leaders are faced with the challenge of increasing the capacity of their entire instructional staff within a brief period of time. In order to raise the collective capacity of teachers, school must employ a locally agreed upon set of defined instructional practices in which all teachers engage in every classroom every day. Defined practices build collective capacity!

Via Mel Riddile, Dennis T OConnor, Kath Lok