Language Arts: Writing Program
Do the Writing Eight exercise with the child. Do the whole alphabet each day — monitor closely for best results. Continue this for the entire year. The Writing Eight exercise (as described in the Brain Integration Therapy Manual) transfers the process of writing from the left (thinking) hemisphere, to the right (automatic) hemisphere, making the writing process much easier. It also eliminates reversals in writing. Be consistent with this and you will see spectacular results in the ease of writing. Do as much of this exercise that you can in a 15 minute time spot. If that isn’t the whole alphabet each day, then continue where you left off the day before. After a while the whole alphabet will be able to be completed in 15 minutes.
After doing the Writing Eight exercise for three months, begin daily cursive handwriting practice if your child is third grade or above. Cursive transfers the writing process to the right (automatic) hemisphere and is considered a Brain Training versus just another way to write. Primarily practice the capital letters for older children: they remember the small letters, but need practice with the capitals. Do not use a cursive curriculum that has a great deal of copying required, such as copying verses, etc. Some good programs are from Rod and Staff and Zaner Bloser. To order an inexpensive writing booklet for practice, contact www.zaner-bloser.com. The third grade level is a good place to start. Short, daily lessons in cursive handwriting work best.
Do not teach spelling using the writing or auditory gates as they are generally blocked in bright, yet struggling children. Rather, teach them how to use their photographic memory to easily store spelling words to long-term memory. These children feel smart when you they learn this way. It may seem like more work at first, but it is immensely successful and much more fun for you and the child. Spelling will become much easier as you go along through the year.
On Monday of each week, use the "most commonly used words" list and words from the child’s daily writing that they have misspelled (not words from a regular spelling book) to give the child a pre-test to find out which words aren't known to make your spelling list for the week. Since many of these bright youngsters have a writing glitch, give them the test orally (you can write the words for them if you want). This way, you'll really find out which words they don't know, not which words they could write correctly. Remember: kids with a writing glitch often inadvertently leave out a letter in a word when they write it.
When you have identified between 10-to-15 words that the child doesn’t know (these words can also be taken from the papers they write), make up cards for these words, working with your child. Write the letters that they spelled correctly in black magic marker on the cards. Write the letters they misspelled in color. You often have to put a picture on those tricky letters. For example, in the word “Saturday” make the “u” be a swimming pool with a stick figure person diving into it. You can glue stars, marshmallows, M&M's, etc. on letters that don't want to stick in the memory. At first, the cards will be quite elaborate as you are training your child to use his or her photographic memory. You will find that, after several weeks, you need to put less and less on the words and the child will still remember it.
Once the cards are made, have your child sit in a chair with his or her eyes in an upward position. Put the card up high in the air, point out a few letters or pictures, and direct the child to take a quick "snapshot" with his or her eyes. Do this for "five looks" then take it down and ask questions about the colors and pictures of the letters. Then, ask the child to spell the word forwards and backwards. Backwards/reverse spelling is extremely important to this process: if the child can't easily spell the word backwards, he or she isn't seeing a picture of it and the word will quickly fade in his or her memory, even if he or she passes the weekly test. If the child continues to get a letter wrong, put more “jazz” on that letter either by using more pictures or a silly story. If you are working with only one child you can do this process for every word, every day, and then take the test on Friday.
If the child is struggling with the word, always direct his or her eyes upward to access the photographic memory. If he or she is still struggling then offer some visual clues like "What are the colors of the letters?" The colors often will pull up the letters in their mind.
If you are teaching more than one child, after showing the cards individually on Monday, you can put the spelling cards up high on a wall that the child looks at regularly throughout the day. Each day, have him or her turn her back on the cards and tell you colors, pictures, and how to spell each word forwards and backwards. If a certain letter continues to be difficult to recall in a word you will need to put more "Velcro" or "glue" on the word using emotions, humor, color, etc. so it will stick in the child’s mind more effectively. Often, the child can come up with these extra, silly visual cues.
Remember: five “looks” at each word, five days in a row.
As the year progresses, the child can write the spelling words in good sentences each week. The writing process will become easier by performing the daily writing eight exercises. You can do this sight word spelling program along with any phonics-based spelling program. To receive a list of the 500 most commonly-used words to use as spelling words, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some mothers and teachers make the mistake of making the spelling words on small, index-size cards and use light, pastel colors for the letters or make every letter in a different color which gives the child no pattern to take a picture of. This consistently leads to the failure to store the words in the child’s long-term memory. The child will only remember the words long enough to pass the end of the week spelling test. This, of course, is definitely not our goal.
Remember, BIG, BOLD PATTERNS and humor if necessary for memory grips. Strong “Visual Velcro” is what these children need.
It is important that your child writes at least one paper a week. For younger students (grades 1-3) this will consist of a short paragraph. For intermediate students it will consist of much longer paragraphs and then multiple paragraphing. Our goal in this remedial writing program is for each intermediate-age child (4-8) is to write a four-page paper by Christmas and a six-page paper by the end of the year. This will require weekly writing assignments that are carefully structured and sequenced to make the child successful with each step.
I use a writing without curriculum program that I developed when I was teaching bright, hard working students in a remedial language arts program. Regardless of the child’s age, I will start with writing very good sentences, then paragraphs, and then multiple paragraphs. This can only be accomplished with a good deal of adult involvement. Using a blank piece of paper (not a workbook page or worksheet), help the child use the webbing process to build a paragraph. Put as few words as possible on the webbing to remind the child what to write in each section. You can do the writing on the webbing while the child provides the ideas. This process is often like a visit to the dentist's office in the intensity of work required on your part in order to elicit responses from a reluctant writer. Next, have the child choose the transition expressions to use on the paper and write them on the webbing. Over the next day (or two), the child will write the paper using the webbing as his or her notes. You will correct it, using only positive comments and markings on the paper. Give the child a point for every good thing on the page: this is very encouraging to the child and will pay big dividends in the amount of writing you will continue to get all year. Continue to expand the amount and quality of the child's writing each week. Remember that we do paper re-writes: in remedial writing it is the process we are focusing on, not the product.
After your child is writing paragraphs easily and with a good order and flow, you can change to any "regular" writing program. There are many available that will show a child how to do persuasive writing, expository writing, etc. Your child will now have gotten out of the "no writing hole" and you can proceed at a regular pace of writing instruction that most curriculums follow. This will be one of your most satisfying experiences when you see the final product: a writing child after a year of using these remedial writing techniques. After the child has become very good at webbing, writing good paragraphs, and using the “Writing Without Curriculum” simple process (this can take up to a year), then the next year I will use the “Step Up to Writing” program by Maureen Auman. This can be ordered from the publishing company, Sopris West in Longmont, CO, or at www.sopriswest.com.
This one-size-fits-all teacher’s manual takes some time to study, but once you know the process you can make very prolific writers out of any group of children using her simple techniques. It teaches all forms of writing and gives children the form that they need in order to put their thoughts down in an orderly way on a blank piece of paper.
Teaching grammar in isolation doesn't appear to be very effective for these students. The best way to teach capitalization, punctuation, and parts of speech is in the paragraph writing process. However, you can teach contractions, etc. using any grammar booklet – just make sure that you don't "major in the minor," so to speak. We can avoid this by only teaching grammar about six weeks out of the school year and doing no more. Rely on the writing program to shape their grammar: it works well with students that need remedial work in the writing process. The “Winston Grammar Kit” is a good right brain grammar program that is fun to work with for kids because it is hands-on. If you add some pictures to the cards it is even more effective!
Enrich your child’s vocabulary by teaching them ten words a week from a picture method: “Vocabulary Cartoons Series” by Sam Burchers. The hilarious presentation of word meanings will stick with your child for a lifetime! These inexpensive, fun vocabulary books can be ordered from www.vocabularycartoons.com. When teaching new words in a story you about to read, just have the child draw a picture of the meaning of the word and write it directly on the picture. Put the words up high and the child will easily know them weeks and months later. There is no writing or arduous dictionary work required.
For a demonstration of how to use spelling and vocabulary strategies, math, study skills, and paragraph writing for the Right Brainer, order my “Teaching the Right Brain Child” DVD. For a demonstration of how to do the Writing Eight exercise for your child, order the “Understanding and Helping the Struggling Learner” DVD. Both are available from the store at www.diannecraft.org.
This exercise is only to be done if the child needs it.
If the child you are working with can read a passage well but does not remember what has been read then it would be very helpful to do this exercise with the child. Spend five-to-ten minutes each day to train the child to “convert words to pictures,” which is what reading comprehension is all about. Have the child sit facing you with his or her eyes in an upward position, ready to make a “movie” or “pictures” of a reading passage in his or her head. Read a short, descriptive passage and stop after each sentence. Inquire about the picture the child has made. Make sure the child includes the colors, size, location, etc. After you have read the entire passage aloud, “rewind” the film and have the child tell you all the pictures they have. This daily practice will bring powerful results!
To see a demonstration of this very effective technique, you can order my “Teaching The Right Brain Child” DVD and receive a bonus teaching manual with it. The video also includes the visual spelling technique, right brain phonics, vocabulary, math, right brain study skills, sight words, and more!
I taught children in second-through-eighth grades in the Resource Reading Room that were at least one-and-a-half years behind in reading. These were bright children that had a reading block. They did not respond to the addition of more oral reading, practice with reading sight words, or working in a phonics book: they needed a totally different approach to reading. Most of them were considered Dyslexic while some had a milder reading block. When I used the method outlined above faithfully for four days a week, every year I saw a minimum of two years growth in reading -- as did my colleagues that used this same method. It requires very little purchase of material -- no worksheets -- but additional work from the teacher. It is so worth it. By using the exercises and weekly Brain Training sessions, you will help remove the reading block that the child is experiencing. By using the right brain teaching strategies, you will be giving the child scaffolding so he or she can figure out words and, more importantly, feel smart right away.
I encourage you to put away your preconceived ideas about remediating reading. Remember: if they were working, you would not be seeking another method. Why did I use this program only four days a week? On the fifth day, I did the all important Brain Training from the Brain Integration Therapy Manual. This caused visual and writing reversals to disappear and auditory problems to be overcame. I couldn’t have made the changes in these children without Brain Training. Be faithful to the Brain Integration Therapy program: you will see wonderful results.
Daily Lesson Plan Overview
Language Arts: Reading Program
2. Decoding Practice
4. Sight Words
6. Oral Reading
7. Reading Comprehension Training
Language Arts: Writing Program
1. Writing 8 Exercise
2. Handwriting Exercise
4. Paragraph Writing