Writing Better: Effective Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilites / Edition 1

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Whether they have learning disabilities or just need extra help, struggling writers can improve their skills dramatically if they get the detailed, explicit instruction they need. This practical guidebook shows elementary school teachers how to make this systematic instruction part of their classroom. Educators will find a wide range of specific strategies that include
  • activities for every phase of the writing process, from brainstorming and goal-setting to revising
  • proof of effectiveness with students who have learning disabilities (field-testing data included)
  • guidelines on how to teach the strategies and use them across grades
  • easy-to-learn formats for students, such as mnemonic devices and short step-by-step action plans
  • exercises specially tailored for different types of writing, including stories, explanations, persuasive essays, reports, and comparisons
  • everything teachers need — no additional materials necessary
Photocopiable student worksheets give teachers ready-to-use writing activities, and before-and-after examples of student writing demonstrate how the strategies work. With these practical, scientifically validated ideas and exercises, teachers will help struggling students develop a toolbox of skills to improve their classwork and change the way they feel about writing.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781557667045
  • Publisher: Brookes Publishing
  • Publication date: 2/1/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 177
  • Sales rank: 239,954
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Graham, Ph.D., is Professor and the Currey-Ingram Chair in Special Education at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. He is the current editor of Exceptional Children and the past editor of Contemporary Educational Psychology. He is the co-author of the Handbook of Learning Disabilities; Making the Writing Process Work: Strategies for Composition and Self-Regulation; Teaching Every Child Every Day: Learning in Diverse Schools and Classrooms; Teaching Every Adolescent Every Day; Spell It-Write (a spelling program for children in grades K through 9); and the upcoming Handbook of Writing Research. Dr. Graham's research has focused mainly on identifying the factors that contribute to the development of writing difficulties; the development and validation of effective procedures for teaching planning, revising, and the mechanics of writings to struggling writers; and the use of technology to enhance writing performance and development.

Karen Harris, Ed.D., is Professor and the Currey-Ingram Chair in Special Education at Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee. She has taught kindergarten and fourth-grade students, as well as elementary and secondary students with disabilities. She is co-author, with Steve Graham, of the books Making the Writing Process Work: Strategies for Composition and Self-Regulation; Teaching Every Child Every Day: Learning in Diverse Schools and Classrooms; Handbook of Learning Disabilities; and the curriculum Spell It-Write. Dr. Harris is the editor of the Journal of Educational Psychology. Her research is focused on theoretical and intervention issues in the development of academic and self-regulation strategies among students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disabilities, and other challenges.

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpted from Chapter 7 of Writing Better: Effective Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning Difficulties, by Steve Graham, Ed.D., & Karen Harris, Ed.D.

Copyright © 2005 by Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Revising is particularly effective because it allows writers to correct their mistakes. Consider the consequences of the following directions before they were amended.

Important Notice: If you are one of the hundreds of parachuting enthusiasts who bought our Easy Sky Diving book, please make the following correction on page 8, line 7. The words "state zip code" should read "pull rip cord." Kurt Vonnegut, the author of Slaughterhouse-Five, provided another reason for revising, noting that anyone can write well "if only that person will write the same thought over and over again, improving it a little each time." Or as the novelist Robert Cormier put it, "The beautiful part of writing is that you don't have to get it right the first time, unlike, say, a brain surgeon." Stephen King, the horror writer, seconded this sentiment: "Only God gets it right the first time."

How then can teachers get students with learning disabilities to revise more frequently and skillfully? One solution is peer response: Peers read each other's papers and provide suggestions for improving them. This makes the audience an integral part of the writing process, allowing the writer to get advanced feedback from one or more readers. By interacting directly with the audience, the writer becomes more conscious of the needs of the readers.

The revising strategy presented in this chapter is centered around peer response. Peers provide suggestions to each other on how to improve their first drafts using a specific strategy and selected evaluation criteria. We believe that the combination of peer response and strategy instruction is an especially powerful procedure. Strategy instruction provides students with an explicit framework for responding to a peer's writing. Peer response provides a motivating social context for using the strategy, as peers work together to improve their writing.

Evaluation of other students' writing using specific criteria is also beneficial, because it helps children acquire knowledge about how to write (Hillocks, 1986). By actively applying criteria, such as clarity or detail, to evaluate other students' writing, children gain knowledge about what is important in writing. This new knowledge is then used to guide their own production of future compositions. Focusing attention on substantive issues such as clarity and detail further increases the likelihood that students will make revisions that affect the meaning of what they write.


The peer revising strategy (MacArthur, Schwartz, & Graham, 1991) includes two parts: one in which revising focuses on substance (Revise) and a second in which revising concentrates on mechanical issues (Edit). The steps for Revise are presented in Figure 7.1; Edit is summarized in Figure 7.2. The teacher assigns each student a writing partner. The author of a paper is called the writer. The student providing feedback on the paper is called the listener. The steps for Revise and Edit are written from the perspective of the listener.

Once a writer finishes the first draft of a paper, Revise is initiated by sharing the paper with the listener. First, the writer reads the paper aloud while the listener reads along. Active listening is stressed, and the listener is encouraged to ask questions about anything that is unclear. The read-along arrangement ensures that the listener knows what the writer wrote. Some listeners will not be able to read the writer's paper unaided because of limited reading

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Table of Contents

Section I. Introduction: The Power of Writing
  1. Writing Uphill: Why Strategy Instruction Is Important
  2. Writing Is a Dog's Life: A Guide to Writing Difficulties
Section II. Strategies for Teaching Planning, Writing, and Revising
  1. How to Teach Writing Strategies
Section III. Writing Strategies that Can Be Applied Broadly
  1. PLEASE: A Paragraph-Writing Strategy
  2. PLANS: A Goal-Setting Strategy
  3. STOP and LIST: Goal Setting, Brainstorming, and Organizing
  4. The Peer Revising Strategy
  5. The CDO Revising Strategy
  6. Summarizing Written Text
Section IV. Writing Strategies That Are Genre Specific
  1. Story Writing
  2. Persuasive Writing
  3. Writing Explanations
  4. Writing a Comparison/Contrast Paper
  5. Report Writing
Section V. Strategies for Self-Regulating and the Writing Process
  1. Self-Monitoring
  2. Goal Setting
Section VI. Making It Work
  1. Guidelines for Implementing Writing Strategy Instruction

Appendix: Sources for Quotes and Anecdotes


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