Guide Focus

What are Learning Disabilities?

Role of Formal Assessment

LD Students in Your Composition Classroom

LD Students in a Writing Center Tutorial

Teacher Resources

An Introduction to Resources for Disabled Students

Annotated Bibliography

Relevant Websites

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Authors & Contributors

Appendix 8: Teaching Writing/Reading Strategies

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Students with LDs often need to work in well defined steps. When you are teaching a student a new writing strategy, you can break up this teaching/learning process in the following ways:

Stage One: Introducing Strategies and Setting Goals

First you need to establish what goals you and the student have. What is it that the student wants to improve? What does the student have the most trouble with? Once you have established the goals, you will want to introduce the various strategies that can get the student to her goal. Explain the strategies slowly and clearly, then let the student decide which might be the most understandable or the most memorable, so that she might be able to employ it again on her own.

Stage Two: Preskill Development

You need to get the student up to the place he needs to be in order to use this strategy. For instance, if the student needs to learn how to use strategies to organize paragraphs, you will want to first make sure that he understands why paragraphs are used, how they are generally organized, etc.

Stage Three: Discussion of the Strategy

Explain the strategy in detail; its steps, its value, and when and where it might be used. You might explain this both verbally and visually.

Stage Four: Modeling the Strategy

Model the strategy using any prompts, charts, mnemonics or other aids that the student might find useful. Let the student watch you use the strategy step by step in a writing process. You can even work with the student to change the strategy, to make it easier to remember or use.

Stage Five: Providing Scaffolding

Help the student find ways to remember the strategy (for instance, if you are working on editing, have the student create a sentence that includes the mnemonic SCOPE -- see Appendix 13 -- : "To check the whole scope of my essay, I need to carefully edit)." Have the student reword the steps and purpose of the strategy in her own words.

Have the student try the strategy right then and there, then assign a writing situation where she will need to use the strategy at home.

Stage Seven: Feedback

Give the student definite feedback on his use of the strategy; be honest about the ways in which the strategy didn't work, and the ways the student might have implemented the strategy more effectively.

Stage Eight: Implement

Once the student has practiced and memorized this strategy, give her different situations where she can use it.