Sue Crooks on ways of prompting children to write with confidence
Many pupils with learning difficulties are good at practical activities and seem to understand concepts, but are unable to express themselves clearly in writing. This set of copiable Frames for Writing provides starting words and phrases and breaks up the task into manageable sections. Students are helped to collect information, formulate and organise ideas, and express themselves on a variety of topics and in various ways.
For each area of the curriculum covered, the frames are divided into units, each focusing on a particular area of activity. The geography frames, for example, comprise field trips, maps and data, videos and films, exploratory talks, topics, project work and assignments. With the accompanying disks, teachers will be able to customise the frames to fit their needs.
The format and prompts supplied in the frames will help to focus pupils' thoughts and enable them easily to select important details from source materials, experiments, and so on. The key language often supplied is another welcome feature. But one concern is that many special educational needs students have difficulty writing on plain paper, so it would be worth considering the addition of a lined page to go behind the frames if needed. However, the disks will enable students to work on computer screens.
Too often special needs pupils freeze when faced with a blank page, not knowing how or where to start; but these frames will get them going, enable them to write more fully than usual and give them a piece of work to be proud of.
They will also have a wider use in key stages 3 and 4 and across the whole ability range.
Sue Crooks is special needs co-ordinator at Stoke Damerel Community College, Plymouth.