Written Expression: Shifting Students' Focus From Mechanics to Content As our scope of practice has expanded to include written expression, speech-language pathologists face the challenge of how to instruct children in writing (ASHA, 2000, 2002). However, before we decide what approach to use, we must first examine what children do and think when writing. Surprisingly, they may not ... Article
Article  |   March 01, 2006
Written Expression: Shifting Students' Focus From Mechanics to Content
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Jennifer Means
    Department of Communicative Disorders West Chester University of Pennsylvania, West Chester, PA
Article Information
Development / School-Based Settings / Research Issues, Methods & Evidence-Based Practice / Professional Issues & Training / Language Disorders / Reading & Writing Disorders / Attention, Memory & Executive Functions / Articles
Article   |   March 01, 2006
Written Expression: Shifting Students' Focus From Mechanics to Content
SIG 16 Perspectives on School-Based Issues, March 2006, Vol. 7, 4-8. doi:10.1044/sbi7.1.4
SIG 16 Perspectives on School-Based Issues, March 2006, Vol. 7, 4-8. doi:10.1044/sbi7.1.4
As our scope of practice has expanded to include written expression, speech-language pathologists face the challenge of how to instruct children in writing (ASHA, 2000, 2002). However, before we decide what approach to use, we must first examine what children do and think when writing. Surprisingly, they may not be focusing on what we are instructing.
Written expression competence requires multitasking complex cognitive skills. Students with language learning disabilities (LLD) demonstrate significant difficulties managing more than one task at a time. As teachers attempt to break the process down into systematic steps, many students with LLD are left behind during the composing step. This step requires organization of thoughts with an emphasis on the content of the composition. However, children with LLD do not focus on content while writing. Instead, they center their attention on the mechanics, spelling, and appearance of their writing (MacArthur & Graham, 1987; Yagelski, 1995). This is typically the final stage of the writing process, but students with LLD are unable to set this process aside during the composing process. Even during the revising and editing stage of writing, children with LLD still do not make changes to content, again focusing on the mechanics.
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