Parents and teachers often say that children with attention challenges struggle to complete written reports and essays. Students often say they don’t know where to start. Flexible structuring can help. First, a number of accommodations can help when students with ADHD prepare written essays and reports.
Allow the use of technology to assist in preparing written work. Being able to access a computer at school and home for written assignments will allow the child support of word processing programs and spell-check software. The child with attention problems is better able to complete written class work and homework on a computer. In this way, he can expect to perform at a level more in line with his intellectual abilities.
Teach students various ways to organize their ideas. Linear outlines, semantic mapping, or webbing could facilitate brainstorming, idea development, and organization of ideas. Allow the student to use an electronic mapping product like Inspiration! (www.inspiration.com.)
Subdivide assignments into shorter segments to facilitate completion of the work. Children with attention problems are easily overwhelmed by great volumes of material, and they seem to falter in their efforts to complete the work. As individual sections of written assignments are completed, the child should be encouraged to proof, check, correct, and add to his work.
Prioritize requirements for each written assignment. Stressing one or two skills during assignments but not expecting that all requirements be met often helps. For example, the child may be told to not worry about spelling or punctuation but to make idea development and organization a priority. This is especially important during late elementary and middle school when students are struggling to make written language an automatic skill.
Consider alternative forms of grading. For example, students could be given separate grades for the mechanics of writing, language/grammar use, and idea development. This allows positive feedback and constructive criticism.
Emphasize the writing process over the end product. Provide incentives and rewards for writing efforts. Avoid being too critical of the child’s writing. Reward significant writing effort and praise the child’s writing progress.
Structure writing as a long-term activity with multiple stages of production. Teach students to reduce the writing activity into manageable stages by using time efficiently, taking breaks, and closely monitoring their work. Sufficient time should elapse between stages of production. Story and report developers can be used to manage, organize, and assist the student in product development.
See more about structuring the writing process in my next post.
(c) 2009, flexiture, monte w. davenport, ph.d.