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How to Use Writing Interventions to Help Struggling Writers

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My students always need writing intervention. It doesn’t matter if it’s the first week of school or the first week back after a break. So, I will share the three most common writing interventions my students need and how I address these problems in my classroom.

Let’s dive right in.

1. Writing Stamina

If you’re having problems with your students not writing for very long, giving up easily, or not writing at all, they need a writing intervention for stamina.

My writing stamina lesson is super simple. We use fun visual prompts and quick writes. First, I focus on teaching students about stamina and why they need to write for an extended period. Then, I have them compete with themselves to have them continue to write for longer and longer.

You can use timers during these interventions. But you don’t need any additional resources to do this. I create a table and have my students graph how long they write every single day.

We do these lessons with fun visual prompts to help students who struggle with a complete writing piece to learn about writing stamina through journaling.

2. Paragraph Writing

Paragraph writing is the next writing intervention my students need all the time, especially during the first part of the year. My students come to me struggling with how to write complete sentences and paragraphs regardless of if I teach 7th, 5th, or 3rd grade.

For a long time, I couldn’t figure out why this was. But when I started working with teachers around the country, I realized that we just don’t have enough time for writing. We don’t have enough training and resources to teach this to our students properly. We’re doing the best we can, but it makes sense when there are holes year after year.

So, if you’re a 5th, 6th, or 7th-grade teacher and you’re frustrated because you don’t have time to teach paragraph writing because you’re supposed to be doing multi-paragraph essays, an intervention can help.

I use a writing intervention at the beginning of the year if the students need it. We break down and color-code a paragraph. Then we use this for every single lesson as a whole intervention group if needed. If only a few students are struggling, you can use it in small groups. You can download my FREE paragraph writing intervention here.

The great thing about interventions is that you can use them in whole, small, or one-on-one groups. You can use them however you need to. During my interventions, we only spend 10-15 minutes each day so we can fit it into a small writing block.

3. Elaboration

Elaboration is another thing I find myself doing interventions for at every single grade level. My students can have lessons on elaboration every time we do a writing piece. Yet, there will still be many students who struggle with it.

So, we repeatedly take the extra time to learn about elaboration in many different ways. For example, we may look at overall texts to see what elaboration does. Or, we may look at the text more specifically in a small group intervention to find ways to elaborate. Then, students will use that in whatever writing piece they’re working on.

Elaboration will make a huge difference in your students’ writing pieces. It doesn’t matter what type of writing they’re doing—thinking about how, when, and where to elaborate will helps students keep going.

This also ties back to writing stamina. Students often get burnt out at this point when they finish their paragraphs or revision section. So, it’s always good to throw in elaboration to help. And if I notice several students struggling in their writing pieces, I will pull them for small group intervention.

Resources for writing interventions

So, those are the three most common writing interventions I do with my students. I have many other interventions (like grammar ones), but when looking at big picture items, writing stamina, paragraph writing, and elaboration make the most significant difference in my students’ writing pieces.

I have realized that teachers need more intervention materials because most writing curriculum doesn’t include interventions or even mention them. That seems crazy because we need to differentiate for students by pulling them into small groups and working with them to fill in those gaps.

Having a library of writing interventions at your fingertips is so helpful in making this happen in your classroom. Plus, you can use these writing intervention resources whole group as well. So I’ve created a writing intervention library, and we’re adding lessons as we find new ones needed by students and teachers. You can learn more about it here, or if you’re a Simplify Writing member, you can access the library from your dashboard.

If you want to focus on writing instruction in your classroom, subscribe to my YouTube channel. I share tips on writing instruction and simple ways you can make a huge difference in your classroom with a small amount of time for writing.

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April Smith

Curriculum Writer and Online Professional Development Coach. 

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