In case you are just joining this conversation, I previously posted about using writing graphs to better understand students’ strengths and weaknesses, using examples of feedback from a 2e student I teach. In partnership with Tony’s parents, I am pursuing multiple avenues to improve the quality of his school life, some of which will require more Crucial Conversations! Simultaneously, I am addressing his difficulties in spelling and adding details to sentences. For spelling, he is using the Megawords program successfully. (I will share more on these materials in a later post.)
As I noted before, Tony experiences considerable anxiety when asked to write sentences with details. A closer look at his problem suggests that he has a relative weakness in his use of adjectives. After trying some commercially prepared materials, I am now “on my own,” with the help of Super Teacher worksheets. I am taking advantage of his superior memory, enjoyment of timed work, and my knowledge of the types of writing assignments he must complete. During our sessions, we work systematically on two activities related to adjectives, along with special recognition of any adjectives used in Megawords. The first activity is a 3 minute timed “game” where Tony must produce as many adjectives as possible for five different nouns. His scores currently range from 3 to 14. I allow him to use only three color and size descriptors, and he may not use his default adjectives of “annoying,” “nice,” and “helpful.” In our last session, he was able to generate 13 words to describe tables but only three to describe boys. After his dismal score on “boys,” Tony indicated that he was unable to describe people. I shared a number of possibilities and then gave him another person category. He scored 11, remembering the adjectives I suggested. We continue to complete adjective-noun matching worksheets as described in my last post. Tony can now complete the sheet in about 40 seconds after first reviewing the lists of words.
Overall, Tony is much more adept at suggesting adjectives for common objects than when we started; he was able to generate about five words and now averages 12. But his weakness in descriptions of people, even their physical appearance, will be our next focus. I am more concerned with his ability to describe character traits than appearance, since the former will be an ongoing requirement in writing throughout his school years. Here’s a sample sheet for that work: