Inspiring To Learn is the home of Homeschooling On A Dime!

You are invited to search away for your entire homeschool needs list right here. There are hundreds of textbooks, worksheets, crafts, printables, databases, games, ideas, methods, unit studies, lapbooks, literature, ebooks and plenty more. Every subject, even Bible.

Nothing out there on the net can compare to this wonderful resource and it's right here. I've spent years and years and untold hours compiling this site.

Leave me a comment so I know you stopped by! I get a lot of traffic here 24 hours a day from all over the world! It's nice to hear a note from those who drop in for a freebie!

Make sure you bookmark Inspiring To Learn and sign up for the emails.

Writing To Learn


I am not sure where this article came from or who wrote it, but it is so good that I had to share it. I found it in my files "un-named". Enjoy!



Writing to Learn

One of the best ways for a student to understand a topic is to write about it. Students must comprehend the material, restructure the new information, and then share their new understanding. Writing to learn is much more than an accumulation of report writing; it helps students think and learn carefully and completely. Writing assignments are about creating both ideas and learning. During writing assignments, students learn how to assess information and determine its appropriateness, to evaluate and compare, analyze and discern, add their own feelings, organize information, and communicate conclusions. Through these processes, students learn to manage and use information to solve problems, interrelate knowledge, and effectively communicate learning outcomes. Students develop excellence in achievement by producing the required quality assignments; they develop diligence by continually practicing clarity, accuracy, relevance, prioritizing, consistency, depth, and breadth through writing activities.

Charlotte Mason's narration methods for younger children involve telling back favorite stories read by parents. In later years, students progress to reading passages and telling back in verbal or written form what they have learned. Talking it out, whether aloud or on paper, helps students think.


Often teachers use writing as a way of testing. They use it to find out what students already know, rather than as a way of encouraging them to learn. But the active processes of seeking information, compiling notes, and evaluating, analyzing, and organizing content, as well as the processes of personal reflection, choosing and constructing words, and expressing ideas in writing, are valuable learning tools which students will use the rest of their lives.


Catherine Copley explains in The Writer's Complex:

Writing provides food for thought—it enables you to knead small, half-baked words and sentences into great big loaves of satisfying thought that then lead to more thoughts. Developing ideas involves getting some ideas—in whatever form—onto paper or screen so you can see them, return to them, explore them, question them, share them, clarify them, change them, and grow them. It really is almost like growing plants or kneading bread and waiting for the results: plant the seed, start the process, and then let your mind, including your unconscious, take over. Go to sleep and let your dreaming continue to develop your ideas. Humans were born to think; it's almost impossible to stop us. Writing helps us to bring all that activity into consciousness, helps to clarify and direct our thinking, and generate more thinking. Writing, thinking, and learning are part of the same process.2


Writing Activities in Unit Studies

Writing Summaries—A Narration Method

Unit studies often recommend the student to read passages (particularly Bible passages) and write a summary. This is an excellent way to tell how well people understand something they have read. This method is almost always required preparation for deeper thinking, and is an important tool for research writing. Adding summary writing to a study routine will increase the student’s ability to understand and remember what has been read.

Knowing how to write a summary is an essential skill for studying and writing in college. A good summary captures the essence of a piece of writing in your own words and indicates the degree to which you understand what you have read. Writing summaries helps you understand your sources, reduces your reliance on the words of others, and helps integrate the ideas and information of others into your own thinking. As with most writing, the length of your summary is determined by its purpose and audience.

To write a concise, accurate summary means you first achieve basic understanding of the material you have read and then carefully paraphrase the selection. One reading will not, in all likelihood, enable you to write a good summary. Using reading strategies including previewing, skimming, and scanning, read your material several times, locating the main idea in each paragraph. Highlight and then write down the main ideas, in order, on a separate piece of paper. Always plan on writing and rewriting this information so that you can condense, arrange, and write the summary in the best fashion. Rewrite and reread, and then select, eliminate, and add information. Remember, the summary is conveying in your own words (paraphrasing) the meaning of what you have read, using the fewest number of words and sentences, and without your subjective opinion. Be objective, as you are writing a summary of what the author stated, not your feelings or evaluation of the material. (Linares)

Informal or Free Writing

Informal or free writing is probably the easiest to implement of all writing-to-learn activities. In its basic form free writing is simply writing down everything that comes to mind, usually for five or ten minutes without stopping. Focused free writing, which uses some kind of prompt—a term, an issue, a question, or a problem—is useful for the thematic units.


This type of writing is unconstrained by any need to appear correct in public. It is not yet arranging, asserting, and arguing. It is still reflecting and questioning. This is probative, speculative, generative thinking that is written in class or at home to develop the language of learning. It may not always be read by a teacher. Specifically, informal written language will help your student to:


  • Develop abilities to define, classify, summarize, question, generate criteria, establish inferences, imagine hypotheses, analyze problems, and identify procedures.

  • Improve methods of recording and reporting data (observing), of organizing and structuring data into generalizations, of formulating theories, and of recognizing and applying the methodsthemselves.

  • Learn about central concepts, problem-solving, thinking, learning, language, and about knowledge itself, while developing the ability to question, to create problems and solutions, to wonder, and to think for oneself.

  • Understand one’s own beliefs and attitudes toward learning, toward knowing oneself, toward one's work, toward mistakes and errors, toward the knowledge and opinions of others, and toward the attitudes that affect behaviors.


Assignments can be gathered together in a "learning log" or other type of journal. A more powerful type of journal is the "double-entry" or "dialogic" journal in which students copy down quotes, facts, or concepts from a unit study in one column, and write responses, questions, and insights in the next column or on the facing page. In this way the writer engages in an ongoing dialogue with the material
—an ancient but still essential activity of serious intellectual life in any academic field or profession.

Examples of Writing Assignments

  • Write a letter to a person studied in the unit

  • Keep a diary or journal as if written by someone in the unit

  • Write a news article about an event in the unit

  • Create a web site about the unit

  • Make a mind map about the unit theme

  • Write a summary about a concept learned during the unit study  




1. For more on this subject see the “Writing to Learn” chapter in Writers Inc or Writing to Learn by William Zinsser, Harper Collins; ISBN: 0062720406.
2. Copley, Catherine. (1995) The Writer's Complex, Empire State College