Writing is an exercise in critical thinking. Every writing assignment demands that students think ahead, consider their audience, and rethink their wording or organization to ensure that their composition meets a specific goal: to persuade, to inform or explain, to communicate ideas, or to tell a story.
William Zinsser, On Writing Well, p.vii
As students explore the world of writing and experiment with their own styles and approaches, they develop critical thinking skills in multiple ways, and Writing A-Z has resources that can help you use writing as a critical thinking exercise in your classroom.
Writing does not happen in a vacuum—there is always an audience and context for every composition. The more students write, the better they become at analyzing not only who is reading their compositions (students, parents, teachers, etc.), but also what their audience wants or expects. Encourage students to be mindful of their audience’s needs, and with time, they will develop a repertoire of persuasive strategies for various audiences.
The revision process encourages students to think about their own thinking. When students re-read a draft, they confront the ideas and priorities that were most salient when they wrote it. A student may have learned a new skill or fact that can be incorporated into a future draft, and this new knowledge helps them see their ideas in a different light during revision. When students practice the metacognitive habits embedded in the revision process often enough, they improve their critical thinking skills and predictive reading abilities.
Along with revision, peer review is a key element of the writing process and it supports a student’s understanding of their audience. When students collaborate through peer review, they train themselves to anticipate the thoughts, concerns, and analyses of their peers. The constructive feedback students get from their peers develops not only a sense of community, but also opens students’ minds to different perspectives and approaches to understanding writing.
The Critical Thinking Community, criticalthinking.org
Resources for Connecting Writing and Critical Thinking
Writing A-Z supports the connection between writing and critical thinking with digital resources that can be used for students at five levels: Emergent (pre-kindergarten and kindergarten); Beginning (grade 1); Early Developing (grade 2); Developing (grade 3); and Fluent (grades 4-6).
Build-A-Book supports each step of the writing process and allows students to revise and review stories before publishing them to the Kids Writing Library.
The Process Writing Workshop provides Graphic Organizers, Revision Checklists, Editing Guides, and step-by-step instructions for creating compositions in various genres.
Students can write every day using the Write Your Way tool, which can be used for journaling, freewriting, quick essays, or reading responses.