Strategies that Help Students to Organize Ideas, Build Paragraphs, and Implement Transitions in Their Writing

         Organizing
ideas and building paragraphs can be a taxing and complicated process for
beginning writers.  Writing
requires multitasking. When some of these tasks are challenging, they can
become overwhelming hurtles that trip up the flow of ideas and can stop the
creative process in its tracks. 
For instance, if a student is still toiling with the formation of
letters, the second they go to write down their fabulous ideas, their attention
is swept away by the engulfing fine motor task.  Likewise, those that tussle with spelling often lose their
thoughts as they get diverted down a path of sounds and symbol
associations.  Still, others find
that although they have great thoughts, it’s a tough and tedious workout to
sequence the surge of scurrying words and ideas.
        
         For
many students, they must develop some degree of automaticity before they can
gracefully interlace the required tasks that are necessary to become a
confident and savvy writer.
So, what are some
strategies that can help students to master the basic elements of writing.
1.     If spelling is a challenge, allow the student
to dictate answers as you write them down or use voice to text software, such
as Dragon Dictate. 
2.    If organizing ideas is difficult, help the student
to define main ideas and details and sequence ideas in an outline or web.  An excellent software tool that can
help with this is Kidspiration or Inspiration for older students.  You can learn more about it at: http://www.inspiration.com .  You can also find an online,
collaborative version of this software on the internet at: http://www.webspirationpro.com .
3.    If handwriting is labored and the student
is able to type quite well, allow them to use a computer for written
assignments and class work.
4.    If handwriting and typing is a problem,
again consider allowing the student to dictate answers to you as you write them
down or help them to use voice to text software, such as Dragon Dictate. 
5.    If getting started is a problem, discuss
the topic.  Ask a lot of guiding
questions and record the student’s ideas in writing or with a voice recording
device.
6.    Whenever a student is struggling with any
of the tasks required for writing, make sure they get plenty of practice so that
they can master the skill. Try to make the exercises fun by using game like
activities or software programs that can assist with tasks such as typing.  
7.    If the student experiences persistent difficulties
with writing or any of the many tasks required to write, consider asking your
school district to provide a full battery of testing to rule out a learning
disability.  You can also pursue
testing outside your school district with a professional in your
community.   

     If you would like
to learn more about helping students with the organization of ideas and the
layout of writing, look at my recent publication, Categorizing, Paragraph
Building and Transitional Word Activities
.  The 30 page downloadable document
offers a series of printable game-like activities that help students to
understand and practice organizing main ideas and details as well as sequencing
sentences and adding transitional words. 
These fun activities are appropriate for elementary students and there
are also additional materials for an older population.   http://goodsensorylearning.com/categorizing.html

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