What is Writing-to-Learn?
Generally, writing-to-learn activities are short, impromptu or otherwise informal writing tasks that help students think through key concepts or ideas presented in a course. Often, these writing tasks are limited to less than five minutes of class time or are assigned as brief, out-of-class assignments.

Writing to learn differs from other types of writing because it is not a process piece that will go through multiple refinements toward an intended final product. Instead, it is meant to be a catalyst for further learning---an opportunity for students to recall, clarify, and question what they know and what they still wonder about. In other words, writing provides students an opportunity to clarify their own thinking. Writing also provides teachers an opportunity to gauge students’ understanding of content. Writing to learn “involves getting students to think about and to find the words to explain what they are learning, how they understand that learning, and what their own processes of learning involve” (Mitchell, 1996, p. 93).

Check out the links below for more examples and definitions:

The WAC Clearing House

Take Flight - Writing to Learn