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Understanding Will – part 5: How do I start my writing? #learning strategies #ADHD #thinkdifferently

This is the fifth in a series of blog posts, Understanding Will,  in which we share what we have learnt about Will and how in understanding him better we have helped him to use different learning strategies.

Will said:

” I don’t know how to start my writing, or how to organize my ideas.”

What is going on in Will’s brain?

  • Writing is a complex and dynamic process that involves simultaneously juggling several interrelated cognitive skills; attention, language, motor skills, retrieval, higher-order thinking and metacognition. This places heavy demands on Will’s working memory.
  • Inefficiencies in Will’s ability to switch attention mean that he struggles to allocate attention, inhibit task irrelevant information and monitor the writing process effectively.
  • Holding an idea in his mind whilst maintaining focus on “the train of thought” and devoting conscious attention to grammar, spelling, handwriting etc, in the absence of automaticity, limits Will’s memory capacity for planning, organizing and reviewing processes.
  • Will struggles to hold ideas and switch attention between cognitive skills. He experiences difficulties starting and organizing work and finds place keeping (tracking his progress) challenging.

The Impact:

  • Will finds it difficult to multi-task and experiences difficulties when planning work. His sentences and texts lack structure and take a long time to produce.
  • Will struggles to commit thoughts to paper and demonstrate understanding.

Strategies that help Will learn:

  • Provide Will with models and examples of the text structure he is expected to produce. Discuss, analyze and summarize these clarifying the purpose and organization of the writing.
  • Provide Will with scaffolds that support his planning and recording of ideas.
  • Encourage Will to use Mind Maps and flow charts to visually record his ideas and/or allow him to make audio recordings of his ideas that he can play back as memory prompts.
  • Use collaborative and paired writing activities in which Will can work together with other learners generating and discussing ideas, another learner acts as the scribe to record their ideas.
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