writing help for 4th grader - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 08-30-2006, 11:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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my son is in 4th grade and is an exceptionally bright kid but he hates to write. It took him 3 hours the other day to write 5 sentences. Does anyone have any suggestions of books that could be helpful to me to encourage and develop his writing skills?
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#2 of 7 Old 08-30-2006, 11:32 PM
 
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I am not sure if his writing troubles are just about not wanting to write, or if he has a disability in this area (many very bright children do.) I am posting this link in case it is helpful to you; there are some suggestions at the bottom even if your boy does not have dysgraphia. BTW, I have read before that bad writing is a common characteristic of the very bright or gifted child, so you may want to examine this angle!

http://www.hopkins.k12.mn.us/pages/n...dysgraphia.htm

 
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#3 of 7 Old 08-31-2006, 12:09 AM
 
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I am a 4th grade teacher and your post sounds like your child has difficulty geting his ideas from his head to his paper, not dysgraphia...I have taught many students with it and it is not the same as what many call "writers block".

Writing is probably the most difficult skill to teach/learn b/c there is no code/trick/formula to it. It takes a lot of modeling. To be a good writer you ahve to be exposed to good writing.

Most students just don't know where to begin. Writing is so broad even when given a specific topic. Don't feel that your child is behind b/c writing, beyond sentences and simple paragraphs is a 4th grade skill. In most states, 4th grade is the year for writing development. Most 4th graders read well above their writing level. I often have students that can read on a 6th grade level and struggle with 3rd grade level writing b/c reading has a code to break and tricks to solve.

I start my students off with writing frames and graphic organizers. Basically, a graphic organizer provides a visual tool to organize ones thoughts and gives them a starting off point. Writing frames give sentence starters for the required parts of the essay/paragraph. there are generic ones you can use with most writing pieces and you can also make your own. I'd be happy to help you but I would need more specifics. If you want to give me your email I could send you examples. Unfortunately, my DH is on the main computer which has some of my work stuff, but most is at my computer at work, but I could get around to it tomorrow. Let me know...school doesn't start for me until next week so I have some spare time...

There are some great books for "teachers" that help with writing. Craft Lessons and Nonfiction Craft Lesson both by Ralph Fletcher are great resources.

Also, what type of school does he go to...public, private, alternative? What does your child read independently?

Hope this helps...

Mama to Jack (12/7/06) & Liam (4/3/08) & Iris Hope (10/6/10)
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#4 of 7 Old 08-31-2006, 02:27 PM
 
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3 hours is a very, very long time to have to attempt 5 sentences. I feel for him. Does it take him as long to write a memorized passage? Is his printing very inconsistant and messy (like a 1st grader's)? Is the product of 3 hours work very below his apparent intellectual (not reading) level? If so, that could be more along the line of lauren's ideas. Can he dictate ideas to you? Have his past teachers been able to write? It's amazing how badly many teachers write for their students when they model. It's possible there is a big disconnect between his 3rd and 4th grade expectations? Did he get repeated exposure to good, modeled writing and analysis of the writing early on? If not, he might have not been well prepared. Writing is very difficult to teach, that is true.
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#5 of 7 Old 08-31-2006, 02:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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BlueIris I sent you a PM. Thanks for your help


I do believe it is linked to not being able to get his thoughts down on paper. He can tell me his ideas and his handwriting is pretty consistant, but I think he hasn't had the best modeling for writing. Like BlueIris said their is no code/trick to it. I believe with practice his skills will improve. I just don't know where to begin.
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#6 of 7 Old 08-31-2006, 04:25 PM
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When I was teaching 4th grade gifted kids, this was a common issue. Sometimes gifted kids (well sometimes all kids) have a difficult time getting their ideas out of their head. Having your child tested for a writing disability would be a great idea. He may be able to write better with a computer. I hae had students for whom the district has provided a lap top due to their severe inability to write on paper. Using a computer to write enables better and more writing. (actually the topic of my thesis!). Graphic organizers are a great idea, when you have the right ones. But, first and foremost, if your child is taking such a long time to write he needs to be tested to see why this is happening. Push hard for the district to do this so he does not fall really behind and get even more frustrated.

Here is a link for some very useful graphic organizers. There are tons of graphic organizers out there but they are not all useful. I would imagine many of them would be frustrating to a parent not trained to use them. Many of them are frustrating and useless to me, a teacher! This site has some great writing block helpers.

People, even teachers, sometimes think that writing should just stream out of our brains and onto the paper in organized and grammatically correct sentences. But, our brains don't work that way. We often have a jumble of thoughts going on in our minds and have a difficult time getting them onto a paper in an organized manner. Graphic organizers help make that translation. The hamburger one is awesome and fun. If you fill it out, you can then translate those ideas into sentences, in the order on the hamburger pape. The research organizer is another good one. If you fill it out, then you can write your 5 sentence paragraph or 5 paragraph essay in the order the ideas are written on the form. I taught my 4th and 5th graders many, many graphic organizers. When it came time to take our state standardized tests, we were allowed to have posters with blank graphic organizers posted in the rooms. My students did much better on the writing test than other students in their grade because they knew how to get their ideas organized on paper. When I was in college, I learned how to write a research essay the same way. Some of us just need help getting organized.
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#7 of 7 Old 08-31-2006, 10:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boongirl
The hamburger one is awesome and fun...Some of us just need help getting organized.
Hehe...I love the hamburger...I use it all the time in the beginning of the year. That is a great website...she is obviously trained in Balance Literacy...where was this site a few years ago when I was creating many of my own from scratch after reading Strategies That Work and Fountas and Pinnell...

If your child's school is anything like most public schools, having your child tested isn't going to happen immidiately and most require documentation of struggles and intervention led by the teacher BEFORE any testing will take place. I think you should voice your concerns with his teacher and ask how your child's writing compares to his peers, how does he perform with on the spot writing in class, sometimes children struggle at home with work they do easily in school (It is a lot easier to say no and struggle with a parent than a teacher) Not knowing your child, I think he sounds very typical of an emerging writer. Talk with the teacher, get some suggestions from her/him, and try out the graphic organizers. If you are not noticing any improvement, then get more serious about the testing b/c maybe there is a problem...it just seems very early to jump to that conclusion. Let's remember that your son is 9...his skills as a writing are budding and the purpose of the 4th grade curriculum is to get him to bloom...

Mama to Jack (12/7/06) & Liam (4/3/08) & Iris Hope (10/6/10)
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