There are a lot of writing curriculum options to choose from, but even with the best writing curriculum, you may stumped with your reluctant writers. This article describes some adaptations I used with Evan-Moor’s 6-Trait writing series that I used with my 4th grader. These adaptations can be easily applied to any writing assignment or curriculum.
Adaptation Tips for Reluctant Writers
1) Change the topic to something personally meaningful.
It is easier to writing about what you know and care about. If you have a reluctant writer, changing the topic may be the difference between completing the assignment or complete refusal. When my 4th grader has difficulty writing about a topic, we adjust the topic to something that he cares about. For example, when we were working through Evan-Moor’s Daily 6-Trait writing book, in one lesson he was asked to answer some questions about his favorite restaurant. He doesn’t have a favorite restaurant. After a brief discussion on possible alternative topics, he wrote about one of his favorite video games instead.
2) Scribe for the child.
When children hate the physical act of writing, they may rush through the activities, refuse to complete them, or simplify their thoughts just to get it over with. Due to this, I separate handwriting and composition curriculum. I scribe for my reluctant writer whenever needed or requested. This takes the pressure off of handwriting and I get more depth and quality to his answers.
3) Type rather than handwrite assignments.
Word processing has a lot of benefits. In the adult world, typing and computer skills are critical for college level work and many careers. Rather than pushing handwriting in a child who hates the physical process, we type out his writing assignments. I will type for him if needed, but he can also type himself.
Benefits and Limitations of Using a Word Processor Program on a Computer
A computer word processor makes it easy to see and edit writing assignments. Spelling and grammar checks can also help improve any writing assignment. A limitation of using a computer is distraction. Internet, games, and other computer-based applications can be highly distracting, particularly when you are completing a less preferred task, like a writing assignment.
Benefits and Limitations of using an Alphasmart
An Alphasmart is an electronic word processing device with a small viewing window. We use an Alphasmart to type out writing assignments due to the benefits of 1) easy portability, and 2) no computer-related distractions (e.g., games, internet, etc.). An Alphsmart’s small viewing window is the trade off. You cannot see an entire page at the same time. CLICK HERE to learn more about an Alphasmart and how I taught my 4th grader to type.
4) Use Graphic Organizers
Graphic organizers can help your reluctant writer plan out and organize their writing prior to completing a writing assignment. CLICK HERE to see examples on my Graphic Organizer Pinterest Board. Evan-Moor’s 6-Trait Daily Writing 4th Grade book includes weekly graphic organizers and activities that really helped my reluctant writing plan out ideas prior to their weekly writing assignment. This made a huge difference in his writing projects. CLICK HERE to read my review of Evan-Moor’s 6-Trait Daily Writing.
Further Reading on Writing Curricula and Reluctant Writers
CLICK HERE to read about 5 research-based ways to help a reluctant learner.
CLICK HERE to read about elementary level writing curricular options.
Conclusion on Ways to Adapt Curriculum and Assignments for Reluctant Writers
A reluctant writer may need adaptations to successfully participate in their writing curriculum and other writing activities. Making the writing assignment meaningful, scribing for the child, and utilizing word processing programs may help your reluctant writer participate more meaningfully in their writing education.