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3 Tips to Help Struggling Writers

I have used these 3 tips to help struggling writers. I’ve worked with many struggling writers and I know how challenging it can be for the writers, and the teacher. I wanted to share these three tips that I’ve used, that have worked. No matter the age of the students, writing can just be truly challenging for some students. They may find getting started difficult. The experience of actually getting the words to the paper, may be hard. Or, students may have a tough time figuring out how to spell words, and get stuck often. Read on for 3 tips to use with your struggling writers, no matter their ability levels.

1. Model Writing For struggling Writers

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You need to model how to write sentences, or paragraphs, for all writers, but especially for struggling writers. Students need to see the process you go through to create a sentence. 

  • Start with just writing words. You can use objects or images first to get kids to shout out words for you to write. Then write the words while saying what you’re doing, aloud. 

“Shine- ok I hear these sounds sh-i-n. I know /i/ is saying its name so I will add silent e to the end.” 

  • Then use one of the written words in a sentence. Say the sentence aloud and then write the sentence. Again, explain what you are doing.

“The sun can shine down on me. It makes me feel fine. I know how to write some of these words already. The other words, I’m going to say all the sounds for them as I write. s-u-n…”

  • Next, have students practice writing sentences. While they are writing, you should also be writing. This again is a way to model to them what writers do, which is: write!,
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2. Use phonemic Sound Boxes

phonemic sound boxes

Does this sound like one of your writers?

Student says: "j-u-m-p"
Then the student writes: jup

So, while the student is saying all the sounds, she isn’t remembering to write all the sounds, when writing the word.

Here are a few tips to help these struggling writers:

  1. Draw sound boxes- one for each letter in the word.
  2.  Say the sounds together again, pointing to one box for each sound.
  3. Have the student write one letter in each box, while saying each sound, again.
  4. Take an object (like the pom poms) and have the student say all the sounds again, placing the object down, each time.

These actions are helpful because they provide kids with a visual, tactile, and auditory experience. This helps the writer make all the connections when writing the word!

 Check out the short video below, showing how to use sound boxes!

3. Use Prompts and Drawings

writing prompts

For students who have a tough time figuring out what to write about, you can provide them with timely prompts. By using timely prompts, students can think of things that are currently happening. These writing prompts may be related to seasons, or holidays, or world events. Writing prompts are very useful when trying to get struggling writers to write. 

Students like to talk about themselves, so by asking them direct questions that they can answer, they are given the chance to write about themselves.

Once you’ve found a prompt or topic they are interested in talking more about, let them draw pictures, first, of their reply. Many times, drawing is less intimidating than writing. Giving kids the chance to draw first, makes them feel comfortable. Then, once they’re done drawing, they know what they need to write about, to match their picture. 

Do you need some writing prompts to use with your early writers? I have a bundle for the entire year of writing prompts and journals! 

These writing prompts and journals are great to help struggling writers get writing!

I have more tips for working with early readers which you can use right away. Most important thing to remember is that you’re trying to build confidence as struggling writers and readers work their way through various literacy skills!

struggling writers
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Aylin Claahsen

Providing resources and support to engage all readers.

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Hi, I'm Aylin!

I’m so happy you’re here! I’m a certified reading specialist who loves talking all things literacy. I have a huge passion for providing resources and support to engage all readers!


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