In order to write down ideas or take notes on
paper, a student needs to form letters quickly and easily. When
forming letters, the student uses graphomotor skills to coordinate
the muscles in her fingers to move them efficiently.
Once a student can form letters automatically,
she can focus more easily on the ideas she wants to use for a
story, or the information she needs to include in her notes. She
can also think about how to spell a word or to restate a new definition
in her own words.
To form letters without having to concentrate
on each movement, a student needs to have a comfortable grip,
to recall the desired letters from long-term memory, to be able
to make a mental picture of what each letter should look like,
and to send signals to the proper muscles in her fingers to form
the letters. The student needs to do all of these things while
also remembering what she wants to write next.
In addition, as students progress through school,
the demands, including the number of details, the complexity of
language rules, and vocabulary requirements increase. If students
do not learn to form letters easily and automatically, they may
find it difficult to produce the written work required. Talking
to students about ways to improve their skills can be extremely
beneficial. Be aware that students who have difficulty writing
may possess as much knowledge and information, and/or may be as
creative or insightful as other students. It is helpful to provide
alternative ways for such a student to present materials, such
as through artistic projects, verbal presentations, music or dramatic
Note: With all student writers, but especially
the student who has difficulty writing letters quickly and easily,
it is very important to respect the student's feelings about his/her
written work. Do not put work on display or have peers correct
the work unless the student is comfortable with this type of public
Here are some strategies to develop and strengthen
students' ability to write letters quickly and easily.
- Hand out notes or a typed or written copy
of the material being presented so the student can follow along
at his/her desk rather than having him/her try to take notes
- Provide the student with partially completed
semantic maps outlines, handouts, etc. to serve as guides or
to use for review. This will decrease the amount of information
a student needs to copy and will help with the organization
of the material.
- Have tape-recorded lectures and old tests
or quizzes available in the classroom as resources for students
- Whenever possible, break up writing assignments
into smaller tasks. Help the student think of writing as a multi-step
activity. Set requirements and evaluate performance for each
step as it occurs (first grade the plan or brainstorming list,
then grade the first draft, then grade spelling, etc.).
- Encourage the student who may have difficulty
simultaneously recalling letter formation, spelling, and his
or her ideas to do writing in stages (rather than try to spell,
punctuate, and develop ideas all at once).