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The Writing Process for Students with Learning Disabilities Video

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  • 0:04 Effective Writing Instruction
  • 1:31 The Writing Process
  • 3:07 Writing for Special Needs
  • 3:51 Support
  • 5:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde
Writing instruction for students with learning disabilities includes several methods addressing special needs. This lesson outlines the steps of the writing process and shows strategies teachers can use to assist students with learning difficulties.

Effective Writing Instruction

Think about how you learned to write. What types of instruction did you receive? Did your teachers teach you the writing process, the steps writers go through to create and finish writing? Or maybe your teacher was more focused on teaching you to find your creativity or self-expression. The type of writing instruction you received may have had a huge impact on the type of writer you are right now. Like the development of most skills, students who receive effective writing instruction find more success as writers.

So what is effective writing instruction? Although there are many quality methods of teaching children to write, effective writing programs include the following components:

  • Writing is completed daily in a predictable method that asks students to create and revise their work
  • Teachers create an environment that allows students to take risks
  • Frequent conferences between teachers and students as well as between students that supports aspects of the writing process
  • An instructional program in which the teacher demonstrates the writing process
  • Time for students to share work and offer feedback to each other
  • Writing is integrated across the curriculum
  • Chances for students to practice self-regulation, making choices about what they write, where they write, and when they need further support

When students receive writing instruction that is explicit, it allows them to develop their craft without risk and gives them choices about how to develop as a writer and find success. Let's take a closer look.

The Writing Process

Many writing instructional methods include what is called the writing process. This model uses several predictable steps to guide students toward creating a final piece of writing. Though some programs have slightly different steps, the most basic includes these four main components:

  1. Planning
  2. Drafting
  3. Editing
  4. Publishing

Students begin the writing process by making a plan for their work. If Jeffrey is creating an argumentative essay about why students shouldn't have homework, he may make a plan for how he wants to present information. What argument should he make first, and then second? He may need to gather material to support his thinking.

Next, he'll write a draft of his work. This draft is a rough version of what his final product will be and may take several sessions. Jeffrey may edit his work as he writes, or he may wait until he is finished drafting to look over his work and make any necessary changes. Finally, once he is sure the piece is in tip-top shape, he will write the final draft, called publishing.

Effective writing programs follow this process in an open-ended manner. Not all students are on the same step at the same time. Jeffrey may take longer to gather information than Bill, or may prefer to use peers to edit while Bill needs more structured help from the teacher. Bill may take several days to draft his piece, but Mary, who is a stronger writer and has taken more time for research, may finish in a day or two. Writing instruction supports all learners no matter what stage of the writing process on which they are working.

Writing for Special Needs

For many people, writing is challenging. Many people get stuck on finding an idea, and some of us aren't great at organizing our thinking or planning. Think about all the things that go into creating a piece of writing. You have to know things about your topic, understand the audience you're writing for, organize your thoughts, find engaging vocabulary, be reflective, and work even when things feel daunting.

These are tough for all students, but especially for those with learning disabilities or students diagnosed with a type of learning struggle. They may have less knowledge about a topic; be less skilled with words and vocabulary, spelling, or handwriting; and lack skills to organize thoughts in a way that is clear to readers. How can teachers support them?

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