Friday, December 7, 2012

Writing Tasks and ADHD: Part 4 - Getting it all Organized

Organization is something that is particularly difficult for kids and adults with ADHD.  Here is one alternative to the traditional outline for getting ideas organized in writing that I have found to work very well with ADHD students.  An outline is a wonderful tool for those students for whom it does work and I encourage you to introduce them to your kids, but if this tool doesn't work for them I also suggest offering up this tactic instead.

After kids have brainstormed their subtopics and supporting details to be used, they'll need to formulate full sentences for each idea.  I suggest these sentences get written on separate index cards - one sentence per card OR typed onto slides in a program similar to Powerpoint.  Again, one sentence per slide.

Here Alice is putting her Sentences in the Order she Thinks works best
The student will then sort the cards or slides into paragraphs with topic sentences and supporting details.  Once all is in order, the child should read through the writing he or she has created and add "linking statements" or sentences.   This is also a good time to combine sentences using conjunctions  to increase the fluidity of the writing.  During this process, a child can add another sentence card for a new idea he or she has had, remove cards that represent redundant ideas or rearrange a portion of cards because of a new thought on how best to arrange the statements of the work.

Finally, the child will then transfer their work into one piece.  He or she could hand-write the work or type it all into a word processor.  Of course a word processor allows for a similar type of cutting and pasting, but I have found that particularly with younger kids there is something to be said for the physicality of the separate cards and the action of actually manipulating separate cards.

This method does have the drawback that kids might spend far too much time arranging and rearranging their thoughts, but if you want to be realistic, that is true of the writing process anyway you go about completing the process.  The method does seem to help some kids avoid "Writer's Block" as for whatever reason it feels less overwhelming or just more fun to them. 

You might also be interested in:
The Writing Process 
Teaching Wiggle Worms
How to Make Your Own Fidgets
Writing Tasks for Your ADHD Student - Part 3: Idea Generation 
WTYADHDS - Part 5: Putting Technology to Work

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