BACK TO SCHOOL SERIES: Writing Difficulties

4 common sense ideas to begin using NOW!

1. Teach metacognitive strategies for spelling "phonetically regular" words

A phonetically regular word is a word where all the letters and letter combinations say the sounds you expect them to say (c-a-t; g-r-a-ph; f-l-i-p).

Some students over-rely on sounding out words. This is a tricky habit to break, but these kids are doing it because they believe they need it.

If this is the case, have them practice sounding out words quickly for new words and model for them how they can do this.

Another idea I call "Flash Word" involves showing a word to a child and quickly hiding it away. This is to help them focus on the word and build accuracy and word reading speed.

2. Give students a framework (structure) to work from

This is called “scaffolding”. In scaffolding, we give students a precise exact amount of support so they can achieve an objective. Aim for high success from the beginning. Clozed writing passages, sentence structure work, and re-ordering cut-out words from sentences are just a few ideas that can help with this.

3. Find a way to celebrate their writing and show progress at their level

Example of an Informal Essay Rubric

Use writing scoresheets/ rubrics (see resources page and click on "Writing & Spelling" at the bottom) that provide immediate feedback on their writing and students can use to self-monitor their development. Give them up to 4 points for each of the following areas: following the objective(s), amount written, spelling, use of conjunctions, use of interesting vocabulary. After they’ve done this, choose just one of those areas to work on and see if they can improve their score in that area. See the various Writing Scoresheets on my Resource Page.

4. Write for fun!

The writing process is not just about putting pen-to-paper, but about having fun and being creative along the way!

Writing is another form of storytelling, which has been around since the beginning of vocalisation... probably longer!

Postcards, thematic writing, storyboards, and cutouts from magazines are a great way to get kids into storytelling and being inventive. They can see things that others don't see, and this is one way for them to share it!

Meet them where they are and move forward from there.

If you’re already doing these four things – amazing! Help others do them. If not, have a go at including them in your school and classroom. It will make a difference.