You may notice that a student is able to discuss a topic or an idea with you quite fluently but they find it hard to write about or capture their ideas as well on paper. This is very common and there are a number of strategies that can help to improve and strengthen writing. It is worth remembering that writing is closely linked to reading and the more a student has access to new vocabulary or ways of structuring information, the easier they may find recording their information.
- Students should get into the habit of taking detailed, organised notes. Phone photos are not enough to increase their understanding or knowledge of how to structure an idea. Guides on how to take notes can be found https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAhRf3U50lM
- Writing of essays, letters, blogs, question responses in all subject areas takes time. Encourage the student not to rush as they may lose key ideas along the way.
- For longer pieces, you should be looking to include a planning stage and a redrafting stage to constantly make improvements. Very few pieces of writing are perfect straight away.
- There are lots of ways to help students record information that will help them with the content of their work. Minds maps, pictograms, infograms, lists, cartoon strips are all ways that can help a student prepare the information before ‘converting’ this into a longer piece of writing and help students overcome the dreaded feeling of ‘I don’t know what to write’.
- Many students struggle with the physicality of writing. It’s not uncommon to find students with incorrect pen grips that make writing much more difficult. Why not try elevating their paper on a sloped surface or using clips or grips to ensure correct hand posture?
- Use technology. Most portfolios across the curriculum can be done on a computer. Learning how to type properly can save you time and effort in the long term. https://www.typingclub.com/sportal/program-3.game
- Use spell check and grammar check on documents regularly.
- Help students with their understanding of grammar, punctuation and spelling by asking them to read work aloud. Often, punctuation and verb use errors can be identified this way.
- Not sure how to use punctuation? There are a wealth of materials online but also in print. Why not try ‘Spelling and Grammar: Step by Step Visual Guide’ by Carol Vorderman?
- Different subjects will have different writing requirements and different approaches to how to structure longer responses. Students will be given instruction on this specifically. Why not ask them how they would write an essay or longer piece? Ask them the differences and similarities across subjects? Try to encourage them to actively ask questions about how they achieve longer written work.
- A comprehensive guide to writing essays across in every subject can be found here https://intranet.birmingham.ac.uk/as/libraryservices/library/skills/asc/documents/public/Short-Guide-Essay-Planning.pdf
- In order for pupils to improve their writing, it’s also vital that they understand the meanings of words they meet in their reading across all subjects. Encourage students to make a list of subject specific vocabulary and check they understand how it is used and its meaning. Encourage them to include this in their work.
- Ask students to imitate the style of work they admire. If they can recognise good writing or effective structure then they should look to use this as a model in their own work. Be careful though – imitation is not plagiarism and they should seek to write with their own understanding, not copy someone else’s entirely.
- Write creatively and for fun. There are many mediums to have work published including school competitions and shared websites where writers can engage with others to share stories. Wattpad is an excellent example of this.