Ashley is a 4th grader who has always enjoyed school. Over the years, her teachers have commented on her positive attitude and her perseverance, even when learning something new and difficult. Ashley has many friends which she spends time with both in school and in extracurricular activities.
Ashley is an accomplished gymnast. Her love for the sport motivates her to practice daily. She has learned to effectively manage her time so that gymnastics does not interfere with her schoolwork. Ashley has always been very organized and keeps her room neat and tidy. Her handwriting, both manuscript and cursive, reflect her neatness.
In third grade, Ashley began showing great strengths in the area of mathematical problem solving. She quickly learned to identify the strategy needed for solving the problem and to apply the strategy. Her excellent memory for basic math facts made this type of task easier for her. Ashley’s teacher often used manipulatives as well as visual representations when teaching problem solving to her students. The teacher also gave the students many opportunities to explain what they were learning in their own words.
In fourth grade, Ashley’s teacher chose to use projects to teach many science and social studies concepts. Ashley responded positively to this approach. Her organization skills enabled her to plan her project well. Ashley often served as a leader when projects were done in cooperative groups.
One problem that has surfaced in fourth grade for Ashley is in the area of narrative writing. When given a writing prompt, Ashley has a difficult time brainstorming good ideas for the events in a story. Often as she writes, her ideas tend to wander. Many times the ending of her story has nothing to do with the beginning of the story. The events in Ashley’s stories are often in an illogical order and have a “listy” quality. While Ashley usually is able to identify grammatical mistakes and correct them, this skill breaks down when she tries to apply it to her writing.
This year, Ashley has shown a distinct interest in art. Her mother has allowed her to begin taking drawing lessons after school each week. Her mother is concerned that this new interest is too much for her.
- Social skills
- Problem solving in math and science
- Time management
Areas in need of improvement:
- Creating cohesive ties between events to improve the flow of her stories
- Sequencing of the events of the stories she writes
- Simultaneously recalling the parts of the writing process
- Elaboration of events in a story
Possible Management Plan:
Begin talking with Ashley by focusing on her strengths in math, science, and social studies. Praise her for her ability to solve problems and work with others. These are skills she will need more and more as she gets older. Another skill she will need is the ability to communicate in writing, which has become a problem for her. Explain to Ashley that writing is a very complex task requiring many steps. Remind her of the many things one must remember when writing a story. Assure Ashley that this is an area she can improve by using a few simple strategies.
Taking Advantage of Strengths and Affinities:
- Use Ashley’s strengths in organization and planning to work on the prewriting stage of the writing process. Teach her to plan the major events of her story from beginning to end without worrying about all the details. Encourage Ashley to use a graphic organizer in this planning to better organize and arrange her ideas. This strategy will also help her to better sequence her events.
- Ashley’s affinity for drawing is a tool that could help with her writing. Ashley could “draw” her story as if she were writing a comic strip.
- Because Ashley works so well with her peers, writing cooperative group stories may be an effective way for her to see how other students approach a writing task.
Accommodations and Interventions:
- Teach Ashley to stage the writing process in order to reduce the simultaneous memory demands of writing. Allow her to focus on brainstorming and planning one day, writing a rough draft the next day, then revising and editing her draft (which is already a strength for her.)
- Explain to Ashley the need for transition words in a story by providing her with several story events that she should use to tell a story. She should not just read the events as written, but should add the transition words that provide the cohesive ties needed to make the story flow.
- Allowing Ashley to illustrate her story prior to writing it not only draws on her affinity for art, but could also serve as a tool for helping her plan the sequence of events in her story. Ashley may also need to practice putting mixed up sentences in an order that makes sense.
- Teach Ashley the meaning of elaboration, providing her with samples of stories that are poorly elaborated and well elaborated. Give Ashley practice by having her to describe a gymnastics meet or a particular drawing, then having her to elaborate on her description by including details, which help the reader understand her experience.