This was one of the “Sizzling Starts” I wrote yesterday at a “Seven Steps to Writing Success” workshop and according to the certificate I was given, I am now a graduate.
“Seven Steps”, developed by author and educator Jen McVeity, is “a unique system that chunks writing into seven main techniques” which a lot of Australian schools are adopting as a schoolwide method.
I came away with a lot of useful insights and ideas for teaching writing. My reason for going was to pick up strategies for helping students with learning difficulties with writing and I was really encouraged that the presenter mentioned several times that students with LDs are definitely capable of writing creatively.
In particular I thought the following aspects of the program were beneficial for students with a learning difficulty:
- The whole notion of “Seven Steps” provides structure for writers to hang their hats on and consider when they’re writing. A clear structure that they can remember is great to help these kids.
- Planning is one of the seven steps. There is a story graph which makes it easy for kids to remember how to go about planning.
- Short activities help to avoid cognitive overload
- Repetition gives children with learning difficulties a better chance of assimilating new learning.
- “Verbal is vital” is one of the catchphrases. A multisensory approach is great for students whose literacy skills are not strong.
- Emphasis is on writing well and creatively. The training did include references to NAPLAN but doing well in NAPLAN is not the primary focus of the program.
Here are a couple of enhancements which may benefit those with a learning difficulty and make their writing experience even more productive and rewarding:
Tips for remembering a sentence – have a look at Dr Lillian Fawcett’s clip here, demonstrating how to help students remember a sentence they have created in their head while they work on writing it.
Assistive technology may be beneficial to help students
- Make a plan electronically if writing is difficult with an app such as ShowMe or ScreenChomp
- Write using text prediction and spell checking
- Dictate their writing using speech-to-text programs or apps