In a previous post, I elaborated on a strategy I was using to support a student with writing difficulties. This student is Tony, my twice exceptional kiddo. He continues to struggle with the writing process, specifically when trying to generate ideas. After we discussed his writing graphs, in conjunction with my observation of his work and verbal interactions, I decided to address his weakness in generating adjectives. He has a fantastic memory, so I want to avoid simple memorization tasks. On the other hand, he needs a repertoire of adjectives which can be recalled fairly easily. I know he will be asking his brain to retrieve this information when he is highly stressed, so Tony does need to overlearn some adjectives. Currently, his preferred adjectives are ‘fun,’ ‘nice’ and ‘annoying.’ Interesting combo.
I am using three activities for practice: matching worksheets, timed verbal responses to a category (such as ‘buses’), and Quizlet, where he must match adjectives to nouns. Here’s an example of his first effort with adjective matching (created on Super Teacher Worksheets):
We previewed all the words on the paper first; it took him 75 seconds to complete the page with multiple errors. (Note the quality of his lines. You can see the unsteadiness/weakness in his graphomotor skills.) On a second sheet, Tony completed the paper in 60 seconds with fewer errors.
Tony’s verbal production of adjectives is consistent with his efforts on the matching worksheets. Since he is a HUGE fan of timed activities, he is allowed three minutes to generate words that describe familiar nouns. His scores range from 6 to 14. I allow a maximum of three color words and his three favorites (above) are not allowed at all. He thinks that’s a bit mean.
FInally, he is matching adjectives and nouns on Quizlet, which is a way for him to overlearn some paired associations. With his spectacular memory and love of timed activities, Quizlet’s Scatter game is a perfect match for him.
Will these strategies help Tony when he writes descriptive paragraphs? Will they reduce the mental effort and working memory he must now exert? Will they improve his confidence in generating descriptive words? I’ll keep you posted.