To copy from the board or overhead, students must use their graphomotor motor skills to maintain a comfortable pencil grip and to form letters easily and legibly. In order to copy words or numbers, students first create a mental image of each letter, number, or symbol they need to write, and then use that image as a model when actually writing the letter/number. In addition, when students copy information, they also use language skills to read the words to be copied, and short-term memory to hold that information in their minds until they write it down on paper.

Here are some strategies to develop and strengthen students’ ability to copy from the board and overhead.

Helpful Hints

  • Help the student learn to compare situations when he/she has an easy time writing or copying information with those where s/he has difficulties. Let the student identify approaches that have been successful. If possible, suggest ways the student might apply successful approaches to situations where he/she is less successful.  
  • Hand out notes or a typed or written copy of the material being presented so the student can follow along at his/her desk.  
  • Provide the student with partially completed semantic, outlines, handouts, etc. to serve as guides or to use for review. This will decrease the amount of information a student needs to copy and will help with the organization of the material.  
  • Allow the student to copy information from the board or overhead in stages (dealing with small amounts at a time).  
  • Read the material aloud as the student copies it.  
  • Make sure all information to be copied from the board or an overhead is written clearly. Highlight important information with an underline or a different color.