Dysgraphia: Writing Disorder
Dysgraphia is a writing disorder that is characterized by a person struggling with the physical act of writing. Their letters may be illegible, they may misplace uppercase and lower case letters in words, and/or their letters may be of different sizes. Some students have trouble keeping that writing going in lines or have trouble starting their writing on the left side of the page.
Teaching Strategies that Work
Dysgraphia often occurs with other learning disabilities. In my work as a dyslexia reading remediation teacher, I often work with dyslexic students who have dyslexia and dysgraphia.
When I begin work with a student, I always give them the Core Phonics Survey. The survey only takes 20 minutes to administer, but it gives me a wealth of information that helps me to zero in on each student's learning strengths and learning gaps in regards to reading. From the survey, I can quickly identify which phonemes are unknown to the student. The interesting thing that I've discovered is that the phonemes that are unknown to the student while reading are often the same ones that they struggle with when writing. I've never found any research to back up this finding, but it is something that I've repeatedly observed in my work. Click here to see one of my student teachers administering the Core Phonics Survey to a student.
Another thing that I've noticed is that students who use capital letters in strange spots in words are almost always doing so because they do not know how to write the letter in the lower case. It is usually pretty simple to resolve the problem through targeted teaching of that letter sounds and how to write it.
In order to help students develop their handwriting skills, a proven program is an essential teaching tool.
The Handwriting Without Tears program is a program that I have used for years. I began using it because when I researched programs and are proven to work, this one got high marks. I continue to use it because I have seen the program help kids to drastically improved their printing and writing skills.
The Wet-Dry-Try app another wonderful tool for dysgraphia remediation. Like Handwriting Without Tears, it is created by Learning Without Tears.
How can classroom teachers or parents help kids to learn how to write?
Tip #1 Use a Proven Program
Handwriting Without Tears is the program that I recommend.
Tip #2 Teach Cursive
Some students how struggle with printing, find much greater success in cursive writing. For students who are prone to reversing letters, cursive is helping because all of the letters in each word are connected. This stops reversals. Having each word connected also helps the students to see the spaces between the words. Handwriting Without Tears has a wonderful cursive writing program that I've with success with my students.
Tip #3 Use C.H.O.P.S.
C.H.O.P.S. is a nice little self-checking method that I learned from the Dyslexia Training Institute. The acronym stands for capital, handwriting, out loud, punctuation, spelling. After my students write a passage, i have them use C.H.O.P.S. to check their work. The "out loud" step means that the student read their sentence out loud.
Tip #4 Use the Page Turn Trick for Math
Students have dysgraphia often having trouble keeping their numbers lined up correctly when doing math problems. One easy trick that helps is to give the student lined paper for math and have them turn the paper sideways. Now the lines are columns!
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RRFTS, director. 44 Phonemes. YouTube, Rollins Center for Language, 7 Nov. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBuA589kfMg. Accessed 1 Jan. 2022.
Shaywitz, Sally E. Overcoming Dyslexia: A New and Complete Science-Based Program for Reading Problems at Any Level. New York: A.A. Knopf, 2004. Print.