4 Types of Consistent Practice to Help Your Student Become a Better Writer
This is a guest blog post written by Beth Ellen Nash, which she has adapted from her Amazon #1 best-selling book, Dyslexia Outside-the-Box.
In addition to explicitly teaching traits of good writing and the writing process to students, (see article on “Helping Students with Writing Problems by Teaching the Traits of Good Writing and the Writing Process”) there are four important types of practice that are a crucial part of our writing instruction and intervention at Wings to Soar Online Academy. I recommend that you include these four types of practice into your writing instruction as well to help your student become a better writer.
Good writing is the ultimate goal for our students. Developing writing fluency moves the student beyond just putting words onto the page to emotionally connecting and communicating with another person through the written word. Being able to automatically apply the skills needed for fluent writing is developed through regular, daily practice. Like any learning process, writing instruction needs to introduce and practice a topic and then build upon that topic further to create automaticity and reliability in the skills.
Each writing trait needs to be practiced in isolation, in chunks, and within the writing process, no matter the learning level of the writer. So how do teachers teach this and students practice this?
Below is a suggested breakdown of how to structure writing sessions. No matter the ability level of the student, they must write daily to become skilled writers. Consistent time spent practicing the skills is the best way to build fluency in those skills so the student can use them effectively in their writing..
4 Key Components of Writing Practice
These four components of writing practice are woven into our writing interventions for students at Wings to Soar and recommend that you incorporate in your writing instruction as well:
- Skills in isolation
- Workbook or online application drills: grammar, parts of speech, punctuation, vocabulary, spelling, prefixes/suffixes, synonyms/antonyms, sentence construction
- Vocabulary: 10 to 20 minutes daily
- Spelling: 10 to 20 minutes daily
- Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics: 10 minutes daily
- Immediate feedback from parent or computer program
- Skills in chunks
- Identifying and applying elements of paragraph writing
- Crafting introductions, body paragraphs, and extended paragraphs
- 10 to 20 minutes two or three times per week until these elements are mastered
- Skills in action
- The student should spend time journaling or free writing on topics of their own choosing. The goal is to increase fluidity in getting their thoughts on paper.
- This type of writing should not be critiqued. Revision, editing, and publishing are not appropriate for this purpose.
- 10 to 20 minutes two or three times per week
- Skills in a written piece
- The student should take one piece of writing through the full writing process (described in “Helping Students with Writing Problems by Teaching the Traits of Good Writing and the Writing Process”) over the course of a week or two.
- Paragraph and/or essay formats
- Project management taught as they work on the longer-term project
- Constant review of the writing rubric throughout the process
- 20 to 30 minutes daily
The six-traits of good writing model (Ideas, Organization, Sentence Fluency, Word Choice, Voice, and Conventions) which is further explained in the article “Helping Students with Writing Problems by Teaching the Traits of Good Writing and the Writing Process” helps everyone at Wings to Soar see the big picture of what good writing looks like. It also provides the framework for measuring progress of our writing interventions and skill development.
In our writing Intervention courses at Wings to Soar Online Academy we build all of these components of writing practice, as well as the six-traits of good writing into the day-to-day assignments for our students using the appropriate online programs, workbooks, and writing handbooks for each student’s level. We encourage you to fill out our parent writing questionnaire if you are interested in our writing courses to help you find the right level for your student.
Beth Ellen Nash is a nationally requested speaker and the Intervention Specialist for Wings to Soar Online Academy, the online school she founded to empower dyslexics and other outside-the-box learners to gain the skills and confidence for independence and success so they can not just survive but thrive in school and in life. Beth Ellen Nash is the author of Dyslexia Outside-the-Box, a book that provides a fresh perspective on the 3-D, visual-spatial, big-picture thinking, and other strengths that are the flip sides of the more familiar challenges of children with dyslexia.