Many children with dyslexia not only have difficulties in reading but struggle with dysgraphia, a learning disability that impacts handwriting, spelling and the ability to organize thoughts on paper. Having students practice writing skills by writing in a personal journal each day helps to improve writing skills, vocabulary and organizing thoughts into coherent paragraphs.
Lesson Plan Title: Journal Writing for Children with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia
Student Level: 6th thru 8th grade
Objective: To give students an opportunity to practice writing skills on a daily basis by writing paragraphs based on writing prompts on a daily basis. Students will write personal journal entries to express feelings, thoughts and experiences and edit entries to aid in improving grammar and spelling skills.
Time: Approximately 10 to 20 minutes daily with additional time needed when revising, editing and rewriting assignments are given. Time can be part of the regular language arts curriculum.
Standards: This lesson plan meets the following Common Core Standards for Writing, Grades 6 thru 12:
- Write arguments to support claims with clear reasons and relevant evidence.
- Write informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas, concepts, and information through the selection, organization and analysis of relevant content
- Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, relevant descriptive details and well-structured event sequences.
- With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.
Materials: Notebook for each student, pens, lined paper, writing prompts, copies of books used as reading assignments, research materials
Set Up: Begin by sharing books, thru daily reading or reading assignments, that are written in journal style, such as books by Marissa Moss, books in The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series or other books such as The Diary of Anne Frank to introduce the concept of chronicling life events on a regular basis.
Decide how long students will be working on the journal project, some teachers choose to complete journals for a month, others will continue throughout the school year.
Decide when students will write daily entries into their journal. This can be 15 minutes at the beginning of class or can be assigned as a daily homework assignment.
Provide each student with a notebook or require each student to bring a notebook to be used specifically for journal entries. Let students know you will be providing writing prompts each morning that they will need to write a paragraph about in their journal.
Explain that writing in the journal will not be graded for spelling or punctuation. This is a place for them to write down their thoughts and to practice expressing their thoughts on paper. Let students know that at times they will be required to use an entry from their journal to work on editing, revising and rewriting.
Begin by having students write their name and short description or introduction to the journal which includes their current grade and additional general information about their lives, such as age, gender and interests.
Provide writing prompts as daily topics. Writing prompts should vary each day, giving students experience in writing in different formats, such as persuasive, descriptive, informative, dialogue, first person, third person. Examples of writing prompts include:
- Who is a role model in your life and explain why this person is your role model and what you have learned from interacting with or learning about this person.
- Write the pros and cons of being on a sports or academic team.
- Explain what traits you look for in a friend and why these characteristics are important.
- If you could invite anyone in the world to come speak at your school, who would you invite and why?
- If I could change one thing about school, I would change…
- Write a letter to the President of the United States
- Think about a hobby you enjoy. Write a how-to explaining how to do something, such as how to make cookies, how to make a make a craft, how to ride a bike.
- My favorite place to go on a summer vacation is…
- Write a narrative story about an unexpected event that happened in your life
- Share your thoughts about a story or book you recently read (can be a book or story read as an assignment).
Once a week or once per month have students choose one journal entry and work on editing, revising and rewriting it to hand in as a graded assignment. Use peer editing before the final revision.
Use some writing prompts that require additional research, such as writing about a famous person in history.
Have students work in pairs to write dialogue.