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How do I help my students who struggle with writing?

Video thumbnail for How Do I Help My Students Who Struggle with Writing?
Produced by Reading Universe, a partnership of WETA, Barksdale Reading Institute, and First Book
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For students who struggle with writing, and they could be older students who are still having difficulty writing sentences. They could be younger students who are having a difficult time just getting two or three words on the page. One of the things we have to remember that the ultimate goal of writing is to communicate, right? It's to get out to somebody else, what you have to say. What we have to remember though is that composing can happen orally. It doesn't have to be done through writing or through typing. I think about one of my sons who had a very difficult time with writing, with spelling, and yet he had so much to say, and so whether it's an older student or whether it's a really young one, what you have to get them to realize is it's what they have to say that's important and that you value that. So, if you can find an opportunity to have a young child who can't get the words down, if you can have them dictate you to say, "What do you want to say about this?"

Or even do a little bit of a drawing, and then use that as a jumping-off point to help them remember what they want to compose and then fill in the words for them. Now, you're helping them realize that "Yes, you're frustrated getting the words out on the page or spelling them, but you know what, that doesn't mean you're not a good writer. Being a good writer isn't just about spelling or about handwriting." So I think that's how we encourage young ones to not get discouraged when they don't have the transcription skills to get out on paper all the great ideas that they have. They may also develop really good sentence ability and text structure, but it's structure that they're able to express verbally, if not on paper.

Reading Universe is made possible by generous support from Jim & Donna Barksdale, the AFT, the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation, and three anonymous donors.

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