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Evidence-based research shows that struggling writers can improve their skills dramatically if they receive the detailed, explicit instruction they need. (Graham & Harris, 2005.) Such strategies can improve the writing skills of students with learning disabilities and are equally effective for individuals who just need extra help.

Academic Writing Strategies teaches students strategies that assist with every phase of the writing process, from brainstorming and goal setting to proofreading and revision – strategies that have been researched and proven to work with students at all levels, and especially those who are challenged by learning disabilities. Together, the student and tutor will identify the greatest roadblocks to the student’s writing and choose the writing strategies that will best address their challenges. Our strategies are evidence-based and introduced gradually as the student demonstrates understanding.

Reasons for Roadblocks

Students who struggle with writing may be having difficulty with:

  • Decoding
  • Spelling
  • Word retrieval
  • Syntax
  • Weak vocabulary
  • Limited knowledge of the subject matter
  • Executive function deficits
  • Written expression challenges
  • Slow processing speed
  • Graphomotor skill
  • Generating ideas, clarifying their thoughts, and efficiently and effectively expressing themselves
  • Getting started (initiation)

Other students simply feel disconnected from the assignment. They may feel it is not relevant to them or they may not have the background knowledge or expertise to write on a required topic.

Writing requires a high level of abstraction, elaboration, and reflection. Not all struggling writers face the same challenges, and so student support must be individualized.

Writing and Executive Function

The writing process demands a lot from our brains, requiring us to perform multiple tasks simultaneously. Memory, attention, and language are all activated, and we call on our executive functions to plan, organize, monitor, and revise text as we write. Many students with executive function challenges, ADHD, and learning disabilities have a hard time organizing their writing, identifying the most important ideas, and putting those ideas into logical order. Students with working memory issues have trouble identifying meaning, purpose, and audience while they’re writing. Their final product is frequently disorganized and can lack structure. It is important for these students to understand how to retrieve information effectively, create automatic skills, and stay motivated in order to accomplish their writing goals.

Writing Requires Direct Instruction

As with learning to read, students require explicit instruction in order to learn how to write effectively, but they don’t always receive it. Teachers may lack the available resources and extra time to provide direct writing instruction. Students are usually assigned frequent writing activities, but this tactic does not necessarily produce capable writers. Elementary school writing tends to center on creative writing and self-expression and not on direct instruction for how to write and communicate. Students need to learn how to write effective sentences and paragraphs before they can competently experiment with creative writing forms and styles.

Evoke Support

At Evoke, our program helps students learn to execute their academic writing assignments effectively. Our program is tailored to students who want to enhance their writing skills as well as those who require remediation. We help students acquire and improve their academic writing skills, think critically, present complex ideas logically, and boost their creativity and confidence. These skills serve students while they are in school and beyond graduation, when the student is managing the demands of the workplace and a career.