Writing Difficulties

About Writing Difficulties learning concern

Writing is made up of many small skills that together create “chunks” of skill sets. Like an orchestra, these skill sets must work together in concert to create a piece of work that feels harmonious, unified, and whole. If any section of the orchestra (or single instrument) is out of tune or off beat, the whole performance suffers. In the same way, any unmastered skill in writing causes the entire process to suffer. As beautiful, creative, spontaneous, or imaginative as music and writing can be, there is a skill-based side that requires practice and dedication. In music, if a trumpet player cannot control their breath well, the sound that comes out is squeaky and shrill. A drummer must practice keeping an even tempo or they will mislead an entire band. Writing is the same way. Any skill that is not mastered is like that shrill note, that skip in the rhythm, or simply that lack of spark that puts the audience to sleep.

Writing is hard, and struggling students need support as they practice each individual skill and slowly put them all together to effectively help with writing difficulties. With support they will discover the feeling of having created a masterpiece, with each skill playing with the rest and no one skill more noticeable than the other. All is in harmony and the work flows out from the skills in a beautiful symphony.

Understanding what the skills of good writing are

When trying to help students with writing difficulties it is important to identify which of the sub-skills are actually causing the problems. Understanding what the skills of good writing are and having a common language to communicate about them is an important first step. Many writing difficulties can be addressed by explicitly teaching and practicing these traits of good writing. According to the 6+1 Traits® of Writing model there are six traits (+1) that appear in all good writing. They are:

  • Ideas: the main message
  • Organization: the internal structure of the piece
  • Word Choice: the vocabulary a writer chooses to convey meaning
  • Sentence Fluency: the rhythm and flow of the language
  • Voice: the personal tone and flavor of the author’s message
  • Conventions: the mechanical correctness
  • Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics
    • Punctuation and capitalization
    • Usage–includes correct usage of commonly confused words such as homophones
    • Grammar–includes using parts of speech correctly

And Education Northwest’s 6+1 Traits writing model adds one more:

  • Presentation (the “+ 1” Trait): how the writing actually looks and/or sounds when shared with the audience. Formatting can vary depending on the media being used for presentation.
    • Handwriting
    • Typing
    • Layout on the page

Use this rubric to help assess where your student is currently functioning in each of the six traits of good writing and to help you identify where their specific writing difficulties lie. Which clusters of descriptions are most similar to your child’s current writing?

Writing Interventions at Wings to Soar

This article explains how Teaching the Traits of Good Writing through the Writing Process Helps with Writing Problems.

The article overviews Writing Interventions at Wings to Soar including how we teach the writing process and a brief informal assessment of 6 Traits of good writing.

This article overviews our recommendations for Grammar, Usage, and Mechanics and Vocabulary and Spelling Skill Practice that help build underlying skills needed for writing automaticity to allow students to free up working memory to focus on higher level ideas, content, and more sophisticated organization and sentence structures.

Let us create a Customized Package
to help

At Wings to Soar Online Academy, we work with you to create a customized package that includes the programs that are just right for your unique situation. If you have curriculum that is already working for a particular learning area, we respect that and don’t want you to feel you need to enroll in more than you need with us. We want to come alongside you to help you fill in the gaps of what isn’t working. Please explore the following menu of possible online programs that we offer at Wings to Soar that we could include in your child’s Path to Success™ Personalized Learning Plan.

If you haven’t already requested your free Just-Right Level™ Assessments, get started there. We’ll email you a personalized set of recommendations of possible programs that might be a good fit for your child’s specific learning concern profile based on the results.

Consult To Purchase The Package