How to Meet the Individual Writing Needs of Your Students

Posted by Erica Warren on

With large classroom sizes, it is often challenging to meet the individual writing needs of each student. What makes it doubly difficult is the writing process involves a complicated synergy that requires students to physically write, type or dictate, implement rules of written language/spelling, as well as generate and organize ideas. Those are a lot of tasks that require attention, and every student comes with their own unique preferences and needs.
Helping struggling writers

So How Can a Single Teacher Manage the Writing Needs of Individual Students?

I find that when most students receive a graded, written assignment, they rarely look past the number. However, sprinkled across their papers are colorful hints and suggestions on how to accomplish higher marks as well as personalized clues on how to develop greater mastery over the written word. The best way to meet the individual needs of your budding writers is to provide the metacognitive strategies, tools, and feedback so that they can consciously learn to manage their writing while on the path to becoming accomplished writers. One of my favorite tools is an editing checklist. Now, let me share with you my approach.
 Free Editing Checklists
  1. Metacognitive Strategies: Metacognition is an internal process that students can use to plan, monitor, and assess their own understanding and performance. When applied to writing, it offers a quick and easy, self-directed strategy that helps students address any written language weaknesses. 
  2. Tools: There are numerous tools to help develop written language skills, and one of my favorites is the editing checklist.  This approach offers a series of mindful reminders to focus attention when students are correcting, condensing, or otherwise modifying written work.
  3. Feedback: Every time a student receives feedback on writing assignments, they can use metacognition when reviewing comments and corrections to define the areas that require specific attention when planning a new written assignment and when editing a finished piece of writing. For example, a student may notice that their teacher is continually making corrections to verb tenses or word choice (due to the repetition of a single word).  If this is the case, check for verb tenses and use a thesaurus for repeated words can be placed on a personal editing checklist. In addition, teachers can ask students to look over past writing assignments to define any other writing weaknesses so additions can be made to their checklists. As an added bonus, this type of assignment can help teachers evaluate each student's ability to critically analyze comments so that they can learn from past mishaps. If this is hard for a student, a teacher or learning specialist can help them through the process.  Furthermore, peer editing activities can uncover some common boo-boos, and it provides students some practice in analyzing writing and teacher comments. This process, too, can help add valuable suggestions onto a student's editing checklist. Finally, teachers can meet one on one with students to review their editing checklists, so that they have all the needed pieces to improve their writing. 
Editing checklists do need to be refined over time, so as students grow, some items can be removed and others can be added.  The trick is keeping the editing checklist mindfully tailored for present needs and current teacher expectations.
By following the steps outlined above, each student can tailor their own editing checklist that can guide their attention for improved writing.  What's more, they will learn how to be active, present learners that can critically analyze their writing and teacher comments for improved grades.
Dr. Erica Warren's coursesAgain, it is critical to provide students with metacognitive strategies, tools, and feedback, so that they can consciously learn to manage and develop their writing skills.  To help you with this, I would like to offer you a freebie!

Free Editing Checklist

To help you and your students think about the many possible editing needs, I would love to offer you free copies of my editing checklists for elementary, middle school and high school/college.  This is one of many resources that is available in my course Teaching Writing Skills - A Structured and Multisensory Approach.

Where Can I Learn Other Strategies and Tools to Help Struggling Writers?

I would love to tell you about my comprehensive course! Teaching Writing Skills - A Structured and Multisensory Approach is a detailed, online course for teachers, parents, and educational therapists/learning specialists/tutors that shares my own dynamic, multisensory methods for teaching students of all ages and abilities. The course offers video instruction and demonstrations as well as free downloadable games, materials, and handouts. Furthermore, I implement and integrate a number of cutting-edge technology tools that keep the process highly organized, and I walk you through the entire process. You, too, can teach your students to be highly competent and confident writers.  I hope to get to know you in the course!

How Can I Learn More About the Course?

Come on over to my course landing page to learn more CLICK HERE, and watch an introductory video!  I'm so pleased to share this course with you, and I'm here to answer any questions. Reach out any time by emailing me at erica@goodsensorylearning.com.

Teaching WritingCheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.


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