Why do Writers Write?

Jen Phillips and Jenny Burns, Second Grade East
During our first writing workshop of second grade, we asked the question, “Why do writers write?” To begin this activity, we introduced the thinking routine, See, Think, Wonder. Thinking routines were developed out of Harvard’s Project Zero, where Jen went for professional development this summer. 
See, Think, Wonder falls under the “Introducing & Exploring Ideas” category of thinking routines, which “help students articulate their thinking at the beginning of a learning experience and spark student curiosity and wonder, motivating further exploration” (Harvard Graduate School of Education, https://pz.harvard.edu/thinking-routines).

Students were presented with pictures of different scenarios: people writing in a journal, writing on paper in a kitchen with food around them, someone reading a newspaper, and another reading a book and one writing a list with checkboxes. In pairs, students shared what they saw in the photos, what the photos made them think about, and finally, what they wondered. After each round, volunteers shared what they discussed with their partners. 

See: “I see someone writing a recipe.”  
Think: “I think she wants to cook something.”
Wonder: “I wonder what the recipe is for!”

In our first cooperative small group activity, the second graders worked with their table groups to answer the question, “Why do writers write?”  Each group received a large piece of chart paper and drew and wrote their ideas and then shared with the class. Some of the ideas they documented were: 

  • It can be fun
  • It might be a good skill to learn
  • It is exciting
  • It is relaxing
  • They want to grow up to be a writer
  • To tell stories
  • To teach someone about something (like an instruction manual)
  • Because the world would be boring without writers and writing

We decided that writers write for all of those reasons, and more!

Finally, the second graders thought about themselves as writers and how they wanted to grow this year. They wrote their goal on a sticky note and it will live in their writing folder all year, or until they accomplish it and make a new one. Some of the goals they set for themselves were:

  • To write their ideas
  • To write long words
  • Working on handwriting
  • Be a better writer
  • Get better at spelling

Our students are mathematicians, scientists, readers, makers, artists and writers – it’s part of their identities as they move through Live Oak. Writing is not just at a certain time of the day – it’s a part of our everyday life. Whether they are writing birthday compliments to their classmates or a small moment story, writing is both purposeful and fun. Having conversations about the “why” creates a writing community with both deeper understanding and engagement in the writing process.

We look forward to an amazing year of writing!

Learn more about the lower school writing curriculum and how it is woven into a thematic curricular approach.


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