Sequencing is one of the most difficult skills to teach reluctant writers or kids with learning disabilities.
Their minds just don’t work in a systematic way, so asking them to sequence their writing is like asking them to run a marathon with their legs tied together!
Following are four ways to help your reluctant writer sequence information and events in writing.
1. Use visual cues for each type of sentence or word they write, depending on their ability. Step Up to Writing has kids use colored dots for topic sentence, detail sentences, and concluding sentences. But you can use anything you choose. Stars can be put before verbs and moons before nouns if your child is an emergent writer. Use whatever you can think of for whatever your student’s needs are.
2. Have your child get up and act out a part of a sentence or a specific word. Kids with learning issues and reluctant writers are almost always hands-on learners and they need to move to learn! Having them sit and structure an organized paragraph while sitting in their seats can seem like a life sentence in prison.
3. Teach them transitions. Transitions are words or phrases inserted into writing to help connect thoughts and ideas. Kids with learning issues will beg for a way to connect bits and pieces of what they’ve written but often don’t have this simple skill which keeps them organized. (To heck with the reader!) The transitions that help them the most are: first, second, third, fourth, etc. and first, next, last, finally. Once kids learn transitions, it makes a huge difference in their writing.
4. Break down the assignment into smaller pieces. All too often, a writing assignment is given, and the student thinks it’s Mount Everest and that’s when it becomes too much. If a five page essay is assigned, break it down into paragraphs. Or groups of paragraphs. Or maybe sentences or words, depending on your child’s ability. Reluctant writers tend to see the “whole” of an assignment and they fail to see that if even a word a day is written, they will someday have something.
Writing doesn’t have to be a chore if kids are given helpful tools that make sense to them!