Clear Writing & Thinking

Having clear goals and using proven strategies to clarify the thinking and the writing increases the effectiveness of both written communications and the learning process.
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About this Micro-credential

Key Method

A well-researched, five-part writing process including planning, drafting, critiquing, revising, and reflecting can be applied to different types of writing, improving the clarity of thinking, the clarity and impact of the writing, and the learning power of the entire writing process.

Method Components

As students undertake a writing activity, the teacher leads them through the five steps of the Clear Thinking & Writing process to produce a clearer written product. Each step can be conducted individually, in small groups, or in whole-group instruction.

Five steps to clear thinking & writing

  • Planning: Decide which of the reasons for writing you are addressing and plan the strategies you’ll use to fulfill the purpose of your writing.
    • Guiding questions can include:
    • What is the real purpose of the writing?
    • If there is more than one purpose, what is the most important one?
    • Who are the audience and what sort of writing works best for them, given the purpose?
    • What are the essential ideas, facts, stories, and information that I need to communicate?
  • Drafting: Write a draft of your piece, getting down the main elements you want to communicate in the sequence and style appropriate for your purpose.
    • Guiding questions can include:
    • Does the order of the ideas in the writing make sense?
    • Did I communicate the most essential things for my purpose?
    • Does the style of writing match the best way to reach the intended audience?
  • Critiquing: Provide feedback (to yourself or others) by specifically noting what you like about the writing and what you think could be improved (“I like, I wonder”).
    • Guiding questions can include:
    • Specifically, what do I really like about what is written?
    • I wonder, how can parts of the writing be clearer, better sequenced, or worded differently to be more precise or engaging?
    • What are examples of others’ writings that show an alternative way of getting the message across?
  • Revising: Make revisions to your writing based on the feedback from the critiques; repeat the critique, revise loop as many times as needed or possible.
    • Guiding questions can include:
    • Do the revisions address all of the specific suggestions from the critiques?
    • Do the revisions create a need for anything else to be revised for clearer writing?
    • After revising, does the sequence of ideas need to be revised?
  • Reflecting: Think back to the initial purpose and idea you had for the writing and reflect on how well the process is going and what you have learned; if needed, repeat the critique, revise cycle once more to incorporate the results of your reflection.
    • Guiding questions can include:
    • How did the planning activities save time and improve the final results?
    • How many revised drafts were necessary? Would more, or fewer, be better?
    • Were the critiques done in a way that helped me feel good about my writing, and even better about improving it? If not, how could they be done differently?
    • How can I apply the lessons learned from this writing activity to the next writing challenge?

Suggested preparation

  • Students first think about why they write what they want to communicate through the written word and list four possible reasons for writing (e.g., explain something, argue a position, give directions, persuade someone, express feelings, socialize, tell a joke), then share items from their lists with the whole group to create a master list of types of writing.
  • Students choose one or two types of writing and list strategies that are effective and those that are not in achieving different writing goals. They organize their list in a three-column chart (Writing Goals, Good Strategies, Bad Strategies) that they then present to the group.

Research & Resources

Supporting Research

Research on writing effectively for clear communication and deeper learning suggests a number of proven strategies that can help students get the most out of any writing experience, especially if the strategies are used to support the goals and the type of writing the writer has chosen.


Submission Requirements

Submission Guidelines & Evaluation Criteria

Following are the items you must submit to earn this micro-credential and the criteria by which they will be evaluated. To earn the micro-credential, you must receive a passing evaluation for Parts 1, 3, and 4 and a “Yes” for Part 2.

Part 1. Overview questions

(200-word limit for each response)

  • Activity Description: What kind of project activities did you and your students engage in to become more proficient in clear thinking and writing? Please describe the learning activities and strategies you used.
  • Activity Evaluation: How do you know your students increased their proficiency by engaging in the activities, and what evidence did you collect that demonstrates these learning gains?

Part 2. Evidence/artifacts

Please submit work examples from two students (writing, audio, images, video, or other products) that demonstrate progress toward the Clear Thinking & Writing competency, including such items as examples of writing goals and strategies charts, multiple drafts of work, critiques and reflections on the writing, or other relevant items.

Part 3. Student reflections

For the two students whose work examples were included above, submit their student-created reflections on the Clear Thinking & Writing activities they experienced. Use the following questions as guidance (200-word limit for each reflection):

  • How did the clear thinking and writing activities help you use critique, revise, and reflect strategies to improve the clarity and impact of your writing?
  • How did the clear thinking and writing strategies change your view of the value of specific feedback, revision, and reflection in writing and in learning in general?

Part 4. Teacher reflection

Provide a reflection on what you learned, using the following questions as guidance (200-word limit):

  • What was the impact of engaging your students in the Clear Thinking & Writing activity?
  • How will experiencing these project activities shape your daily future teaching practice?

Except where otherwise noted, this work is licensed under:
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)


Download to access the requirements and scoring guide for this micro-credential.
Requirements for Clear Writing & Thinking
How to prepare for and earn this micro-credential - in a downloadable PDF document

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