Source: The Atlantic, Oct 2012
explicit teaching of writing makes kids better writers … if a teacher does not show students how to construct a paragraph or a well-written argument, some will figure out it anyway, but many will not.
First, more writing.
Second, having students write about the texts that they read: for example, close analysis and interpretation, summaries, or the answering of questions, all of which demand understanding.
Third, explicit teaching of the skills and processes that go into creating text. If students understand the conventions of writing an effective sentence, an effective paragraph, and an effective essay, then they will better understand how authors use those conventions. For example, they will understand that the start of a new paragraph likely signals the start of a new idea.
There is a certain logic to the idea that students can become better critical thinkers by completing writing assignments. Writing forces you to organize your thoughts. Writing encourages you to try different ideas and combinations of ideas. Writing encourages you to select your words carefully.
Writing holds the promise (and the threat) of a permanent record of your thoughts, and thus offers the motivation to order them carefully. And indeed some forms of writing–persuasive or expository essays for example — explicitly call for carefully ordering thinking.