It is helpful to break any writing assignment up into separate "tasks." For instance, see Appendix 12 for a possible breakdown of a research project. For the most part, you can separate a writing task into 3 parts:
There are several different ways a student can plan a paper, including Brainstorming, Clustering, and Looping (see Stephen Reid’s Prentice Hall Guide for a description of these strategies). You can also teach your student to use a graphic chart (there is a description of four types in Appendix 11). Try several of these charts to see which one works best for your student by having her brainstorm ideas on a topic.
After she has found a strategy that works for her, have her refer to her chart and do some freewriting (if your student has difficulty with freewriting, have her make a list instead); at this point, encourage her not to worry about what she includes in her text. She will be able to decide what to include or exclude later.
Next, have your student read through what she has done so far and decide what might be included and excluded from her essay.
Have her then plan a new "action plan." At this point, have your student separate her plan into an Introduction, a Body, and a Conclusion:
1. Introduction: Generally, an introduction includes
a. necessary background on the topic
b. the purpose of the paper (why it might be important to
explore this topic)
c. an overview of the main points that will be covered
2. Body: the body of the essay is generally
a. organized by point (and the order makes sense)
b. clearly states each point
c. offers evidence/details for each point
3. Conclusion: make sure the conclusion
a. is consistent with what is slated in the introduction
b. explains the importance of issue addressed
Next comes the drafting step:
Now it is time for your student to translate her chart into a draft. Some students might benefit from creating a more detailed linear outline before going on, and others will benefit more from a more detailed "pictorial" outline. For some students, once they have written a detailed outline the drafting is the easiest part of writing. However, most students with LDs have a very difficult time with this part of writing. Some students will need to freewrite again at this point, and then use a strategy like cutting the draft up and pasting it back together (see Appendix 11). Others will just need a lot of extra time and room for writing many drafts.
Students may benefit from keeping a "drafting diary" where she can record revision questions she needs to ask herself, like "Do my thoughts follow each other logically and make sense?" and "Does each sentence say what I want it to say?" or "Have I left out any important information?" (see Appendix 13 for more revision and editing strategies). Most students with LDs should work with you to create an editing/proofreading check-list that they can use throughout their academic career.
Some students might benefit from reading their essay into a tape recorder and then listening to the essay to find inconsistencies, errors, lack of coherence, etc.