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Favorite Writing Program for Dyslexic Children?


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#1 Jane

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 09:56 AM

I have a rising 5th grader who is reading now, but still struggles quite a bit with the mechanics of writing (organizaton of paper, neatness, punctuation, and very occasionally still has backwards numbers and letters). This year we used R&S Grammar 4. In 3rd grade I focused on copywork.

What worked well for your dyslexic student at this age (5th grade)?

TIA.

#2 Claire

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 10:18 AM

Nothing worked for my dd at that age, but she was also borderline dysgraphic. She is 17yo now and a junior in public high school. I am *amazed* at the progress she has made with writing these last three years.

Looking back, though, these are programs I would have tried had I known about them at the time.

Four Square, available from Amazon. Quite a few writing tutors use this and give it a thumbs up. Helps with organization.

If your student likes working on the computer (my dd did not), I'd get Kidspiration. This is a graphic organizer that will create an outline for the student. (Be aware that Inspiration software has quite a steep learning curve. That's why I'd start with Kidspiration.) An alternative to computer software is to simply have your student write one sentence per post-it note, and then physically arrange and re-arrange the post-it notes into an organizational outline. You can even use different colored post-it notes for topic sentence and concluding sentence in a paragraph.

It sounds as if your student may be borderline dysgraphic as well as dyslexic. Severe dysgraphics can't write at all. Borderline dysgraphics can write, but have problems with neatness, written grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. Teaching keyboarding skills helps a *lot*. Aside from automatic neatness, word processing programs provide cues for correcting grammar, punctuation and spelling. Many dysgraphics have difficulty acquiring keyboarding skills. This was the case with my dd. We tried many programs that did not work for her. The only one I can highly recommend is Keyboarding Skills by Diana Hanbury King. She also has a writing program that is supposed to be excellent.

For grammar, I highly recommend Hake, but plan on getting the 5th grade level and spending two years on it rather than one. The daily lessons would probably take a regular student 20 minutes, but the 7th grade lessons took my dd about 40 minutes each. Grammar is repetitive anyway. If you schedule it for 2 or 3 times a week and take two years to work through level 5, you can purchase level 7 the next time and spend two years on that.

The writing process itself, in 5th grade, should be focused on getting thoughts down on paper and then revising. Spelling, punctuation and grammar are all just the mechanics of writing and should be de-emphasized at this point with a dyslexic student. Those things will develop with time. It's more important in the beginning to focus on getting thoughts down on paper and on organizing those thoughts.

#3 Michelle T

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Posted 22 April 2008 - 11:38 AM

is having DS dictate to me, or having him write on the computer. My guy is nearly 12, with dysgraphia, very poor visual/spatial processing, terrible working memory, and issues with comprehension, along with ADHD. Writing is a ROUGH subject around here, not only presenting his ideas coherently, but all of the mechanics.

For spelling, the Apples and Pears curriculum has made a huge difference.
I haven't found anything great for grammar so far, but we just started a workbook called Grammar Basics Plus last week, which Rainbow Resource describes as being for "slow learners". It's very simple and straightforward so far, we'll see.

For actual writing skills, we recently started Jump In! from Apologia. I like the way it breaks writing skills down into very small chunks, and is written in a very conversational, non-threatening manner. It's too soon to know how DS will do with it, but so far, he has no complained about the lessons, which is a big deal for him! I don't care for the religious/political content, but just cross that out when we come to it.

Other things that have helped:
He started his own blog, and loves writing entries. They are all typical 11-year-old-boy stuff, lots of stories about aliens, fighting, blowing things up, poop, and similar. His friends LOVE his blog, and most read it daily.

Having him do weekly free writes has been helpful. I used to have him dictate these to me, he is now able to do them on his own, using the computer.

Letting him come up with his own story ideas has been great. He's a lot more motivated to write about his own ideas than the typically boring assignments in most writing curriculum, such as "describe a pencil". That was an actual assignment in Writing Strands, I think that was the point where we gave up on that program!
Michelle T