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Students With Written Output Difficulties
Sharon Longert

Many students with learning disabilities have difficulties with their ability to produce acceptable/grade appropriate work on paper and to demonstrate their knowledge in written form. There is a great discrepancy between what they know, what information they have and can express verbally, and what they are able to actually put down on paper. These difficulties present themselves as fine motor and handwriting difficulties, numerous erasures, disorganization of written product, immature letter spacing and formation. Often the written output for these students is far below the average output for the grade level.

Your job as teacher is to find strategies so these students can express what they know and understand. Following are some ideas adapted from Sandra Reif and Julie Heimburge’s book, How to Reach and Teach All Students in the Inclusive Classroom, (The Center for Applied Research In Education, 1996).

  • Substitute oral reports for written assignments.
  • Give options and choices that draw on students strengths – building, investigating, drawing, constructing, simulating, experimenting, researching, retelling – and don’t require extensive writing.
  • Provide worksheets with extra space for answers.
  • Enlarge the space for written work especially in math and on tests.
  • Assign a buddy to take notes, share, compare.
  • Make photocopies of teacher notes for students who have difficulty copying form the board easily.
  • Follow written exams with oral exams and average the grades.
  • Allow oral responses for assignments.
  • Permit dictation of responses to a transcriber or tape recorder.
  • Provide access to word processor, speech to print computer programs.
  • Accept homework that is typed, encourage readable and large fonts.
  • Prompt the students with the first two or three sentences.
  • Allow students to share their work with the class using transparencies for the overhead.
  • Encourage all students to only use one side of the paper.

Giving students alternatives instills them with a sense of empowerment and provides you with a more realistic view of their capabilities. And since student work is a product of how well students understand the concepts, it is also a reflection on the teacher's effectiveness.

If you have a question or suggestion, don’t hesitate to e-mail me.


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