We have found success replacing the written task with a computer, AlphaSmart, or The Writer (this one we really like, as it has built-in word prediction software and a typing program). When we realized our own son's writing disability was so severe, we started scribing for him and introduced a keyboard as early as possible. He does not always like to use it in school, but he uses a keyboard a lot at home.
Here are some other ideas that I have tried or seen others use in the classroom.
• Math Problems
• Travel brochures
• Want Ads
• Advice Columns
• Book Reviews
Write a story as a group using Google Docs: Here they can write and edit a story at the same time from different computers. A great group project tool.
Create a chat room: Teachers have found that sometimes-shy students in class will eagerly participate in cyberspace and this encourages writing. Be certain to set up rules for the positive use of the chat room.
Author writing: Students take on the identity of an author and are asked to write a journal entry or even a letter to the class from the author’s perspective.
Kamishibai: Students work in groups of four, and each student is given a role: sequencer, who determines how to depict the action of the story; artist, who draws the pictures; scriptwriter, who writes a script for each picture; and performer, who acts out the scene. This technique is from Japanese culture. See the following website for more information: http://www.kamishibai.com.
Pictures: Use pictures to show students how to develop topic sentences. My favorite source for pictures is Google Images.
Peer editing with credit: Two peers edit a paper together and they both receive credit for the improvement in the final paper.
Crystal Ball and Yesterday’s News: Ask everyone to write a short paragraph at the start of class either telling someone what they learned yesterday or predicting what they will learn today.
Red/Green Pen: When grading papers, circle errors in red and good aspects of the writing in green. Then ask students why items were circled in green.
Expanded sentences: Start with simple sentences and in cooperative groups ask students to expand them into larger sentences. Set a goal of a specific word length.
Pass a sentence: Have students in cooperative groups write a starter sentence and then pass the starter sentence around the group, asking each student to contribute to the paragraph.
Interviews: Have students write interview questions and answers about numerous topics.
Journaling: Have students write in a journal about everything from their personal life to every subject that they experience in school.
Vocabulary book: For every subject area, have students keep a vocabulary book of words they are struggling to learn. Then encourage students to use these vocabulary words across disciplines. For students who have difficulty with the writing process and definitions, have them draw a picture to help them remember a word’s definition.
Hope you find some of these tips helpful in getting students to at least engage in the writing process.